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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cambodia's coastline awarded as world most beautiful bay

PHNOM PENH, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Club of the World's Most Beautiful Bays has officially recognized Cambodia's coastal areas as its member, the minister of tourism, Thong Khon confirmed Tuesday.

The recognition was made after Cambodia's proposal in May last year.

"With the club's recognition, we have optimism that our clean and well-preserved beaches will attract more foreign tourists,"he said, adding"it will also be an impetus to encourage more investors to the areas."

Cambodia's coastline is stretching in the length of 450 km in four provinces of Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep.

It is the country's second most popular destination for tourists after Siem Reap's Angkor Wat temple, the world heritage site.

The club was established in March 1997, in Berlin, Germany. Including Cambodia, it has 27 countries as member with 33 bays to be recognized as the most beautiful bays in the world, said the minister.

According to the club's criteria, to be listed as the world's most beautiful bay, a bay must be under protection project with a wildlife and flora area. Also, it must be recognized by both local and regional level, and it must possess at least two features recognized by UNESCO in the cultural or natural assets categories.

Tourism industry is one of the main four pillars supporting Cambodian economy. In 2010, the sector received 2.5 million foreign tourists generating the total revenue of 1.75 billion U.S. dollars.
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Thailand pushing for WHC understanding on temple dispute

Khmer Preah Vihear damaged from Thai shelling
 BANGKOK, May 31 - Thailand will speed its attempt to inform the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) to understand Thailand's stance on Preah Vihear temple, while planning to hold further talks with Cambodia before the 35th session of WHC annual meeting to start on June 19, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti said on Tuesday.

Mr Suwit who is also Thai government's chief negotiator notified the cabinet about the result of special meeting between Thailand and Cambodia on May 25 to 26 on the ancient temple dispute at Paris-based UNESCO, mediated by its Director-General Irina Bokova.

He said the Thai delegation stood firm that the Cambodian management plan for Preah Vihear temple had caused problems between the two countries and the Thai representatives would go ahead with Thailand's plan to inform the 20 WHC member countries to understand that possible problem may arise in the future if the WHC accepts the Preah Vihear management plan proposed by Cambodia at the 35th WHC meeting being held June 26-29.

However, Mr Suwit admitted that the move was not easy as many WHC member countries had provided assistance to Cambodia in the past but he was confident that those countries would understand the problem.

During the Paris meeting, UNESCO demonstrated a better understanding of the issue and towards Thailand’s rationale for proposing that the WHC postpone consideration of Cambodia’s management plan in the area of the Preah Vihear temple pending finalisation of the boundary negotiations between the two countries.

This also included the proposal that in the long-term, Preah Vihear temple should be inscribed as a transboundary property.

However, at this stage, Cambodia continued to insist that its management plan be considered at the WHC meeting.

Mr Suwit said further discussion on how to proceed would therefore be needed and he expected Thailand and Cambodia would hold talks again before the start of WHC meeting on June 16.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962 and the temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulting in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.

Regarding the Cambodian request to the ICJ to interpret judgment on the case of Preah Vihear temple, including its request for indication of provisional measures, Mr Suwit said Thailand had to await the result of the ICJ hearing.

Thai legal team led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya now in the Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday is scheduled to present the observation on Cambodian request on provision measures to ICJ for the second day at 10pm Thai time.

The result of hearing should be known within 1-3 weeks. In any case, the provisional measure is a separate case from Cambodia’s request to interpret the court’s 1962 ruling on Preah Vihear. Should the provisional measures be issued or not, it will not affect the interpretation case.

As for the interpretation of the court’s 1962 ruling, it was expected that the court would require official statement from both sides about September or October and would take one or two years to consider.

On the first day of the hearing, Thai legal team had told the court that Thailand had accepted and complied with a 1962 ICJ ruling that the temple belonged to Cambodia. However the court has no jurisdiction to judge the Cambodian request.

Meanwhile, Cambodia had also accepted without protest the line drawn by Thailand demarking the area that encompasses the Preah Vihear temple compound following the 1962 Court decision.

After being silence for 40 years, Cambodia started to challenge the perimeter limits of the temple only recently when it wanted to list the temple as a World Heritage site and wanted the area as buffer zone to manage the temple under the management plan of the ancient Hindu temple.

Cambodia has also admitted that it had yet to demarcate the border - including the area where Preah Vihear temple is located - when it signed the memorandum of understanding with Thailand in 2000.

Thailand wished to live in peace, develop good relations and cooperation with Cambodia, so that there is no reason for any conflict, said the Thai legal team. (MCOT online news)
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OZ denies Cambodia blunder

                                                 OZ Minerals' Century Mine in Queensland. Photo: Reuters

OZ MINERALS and the Cambodian government have been forced to deny allegations of impropriety over reports that a transaction by Oz Minerals in 2009 led to hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid to the relatives of government officials.

The news comes as the US Securities and Exchange Commission continues investigations into Cambodian bribery allegations involving BHP Billiton.

BHP has yet to confirm - or deny - that the investigations relate to a $US1 million payment by the company to the Cambodian government in 2006 to secure bauxite leases.

According to yesterday's The Cambodia Daily, Oz Minerals bought out its partner in a Cambodian gold mine in 2009, Shin Ha.

More than $A1 million of the proceeds went to three women on the partner's board who were reportedly closely related to officials from government departments including the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME).

According to the newspaper's investigative reporter, Douglas Gillison, the trio were appointed in 2006, just before Shin Ha concluding a joint venture agreement with the Owen Hegarty-lead Oxiana.

The company was later named Oz Minerals following a merger with Zinifex.

Oz Minerals spokesman Natalie Worley told BusinessDay an investigation by the company did not find any evidence of wrongdoing.

''Wherever we operate, we act in accordance with local regulations and with international standards.

''We deny any allegations of inappropriate business practices,'' Ms Worley said.

According to the report, Cambodian Minister Suy Sem said no ministry officials had received any payments and the ministry had strictly observed the law.

Government officials are not allowed to have business interests and must declare assets, but this disclosure does not extend to relatives.

Oz Minerals has only recently put another controversy behind it.

Last month it paid $60 million to settle two lawsuits which claimed shareholders lost hundreds of millions of dollars when the miner failed to disclose its true debt position during the global financial crisis.

OZ Minerals was forced to sell all its operating mines, except Prominent Hill, to China Minmetals in June 2009 for $US1.39 billion after it could not reach an agreement with banks to pay back this debt.

It survived only after Wayne Swan blocked the sale of Prominent Hill - a copper and gold mine in South Australia.

Oz Minerals also retained the gold exploration rights in Cambodia, which could provide more disappointment. In April, the company said it was reviewing its gold exploration in the country after exploration efforts failed to find a large enough resource base to justify the commencement of production.

Meanwhile, BHP said yesterday that its internal investigation into the Cambodia bribery allegations was continuing and that it had passed on to US authorities ''evidence that it has uncovered regarding possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials''.

''The group is continuing to co-operate with the relevant authorities. It is not possible at this time to predict the scope or duration of the investigation or its likely outcomes,'' BHP said.

BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers effectively pre-empted the findings of two investigations in April last year by saying he expected only modest fallout for the company.
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Cambodian Complains of Thai Aggression Before World Court

Cambodia's Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong, right, and Franklin Berman, member of the English Bar, left, talk at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, May 30, 2011

Cambodia's foreign minister has told the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Thai aggression is to blame for a recent series of deadly border clashes between the countries.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong urged judges in the Netherlands-based court on Monday to settle a territorial dispute over land around the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which led to clashes that killed at least 10 people in February. Another 18 died in fighting last month near another ancient temple complex about 150 kilometers farther west.

Hor Namhong is asking the court during the two-day hearing to rule that a 4.6-square-kilometer area around the temple is Cambodian territory. The same court ruled in 1962 that the temple itself is in Cambodia, but remained vague about the surrounding land.

Bangkok officials say Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, backed by an international team of lawyers, will tell the court later Monday that Thailand has never questioned the 1962 ruling itself. But he is expected to argue that by agreeing in 2000 to establish a joint boundary committee, Cambodia has admitted that the border itself is unclear, and that the boundary committee should settle the issue rather than the court.

Cambodia is also asking the court to order an immediate withdrawal of Thai forces from land around the temple and to ban Thai military activity in the area. A ruling on that request could come within two to three weeks, while a final decision on the case is not expected until early next year.
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Cambodia-Thailand border dispute at UN court

Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong is seen at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, May 30, 2011. Thailand and Cambodia will face off at the United Nations' highest court Monday, in the latest move to settle a decades-old battle for control of a disputed border region that has erupted into deadly military clashes. Cambodia is asking the court to order Thailand to withdraw troops and halt military activity around a temple at the center of the dispute between the Southeast Asian neighbors. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)

Thailand and Cambodia traded barbs Monday at the United Nations' highest court, accusing each other of launching illegal cross-border attacks around a historic temple in a disputed border region.

The competing claims came as Cambodia appealed to the International Court of Justice to order Thai troops away from Preah Vihear temple — Thailand responded by claiming the court has no jurisdiction to intervene.
Opening the hearing with an emotional speech, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong claimed Thai forces had mounted "murderous armed incursions" into Cambodian territory.

Thailand's ambassador to the Netherlands, Virachai Plasai, hit back by alleging that unprovoked Cambodian attacks on Thai territory amounted to "a blatant and deliberate violation of" the rules of war.

"This portrayal of Thailand as a big bad wolf bullying the lamb of Cambodia is totally wrong," Plasai said.

Fighting between the two nations has cost some 20 lives, wounded dozens and sent tens of thousands fleeing since 2008, when the 11th-century temple was given U.N. World Heritage status, overriding Thailand's objections.

In a fresh attempt to settle the dispute that has simmered for decades, Cambodia is asking the world court for a new interpretation of its 1962 judgment that gave it control of the temple.

But Thailand's lawyer James Crawford said the 16-judge panel has no jurisdiction to intervene now because Thailand accepts the 1962 ruling that the temple is on Cambodian territory. He said the border dispute is not part of the ruling.

He was responding to Hor Namhong's assertion that Thailand is using an erroneous reading of the 1962 ruling "to provide legal cover for armed incursions into Cambodian territory."

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said the two countries are still in talks to settle the border dispute.

"We do not understand why we have to come here when there is already an existing mechanism" for negotiating a border, Kasit told reporters outside the courtroom.

The court could rule on Cambodia's request for a Thai troop withdrawal order within weeks, but will likely take years to settle the underlying dispute if it accepts it has jurisdiction.

Tensions along the border have been exacerbated in recent months, in part by pressure from influential Thai nationalist groups that have protested in Bangkok, urging the government to take back disputed border territory. Hardcore nationalists insist a 1962 World Court ruling awarding the Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia was unfair.

"Thailand does not merely challenge Cambodia's sovereignty in this region, but is imposing its own interpretation by occupying this zone by murderous armed incursions," Hor Namhong said.

The flare-up also comes as the Thai military raises its profile in domestic politics ahead of a general election scheduled for July 3.

According to its World Heritage listing, the temple dedicated to Shiva "is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation."

Talks mediated by Indonesia's president in early May between the two countries' prime ministers failed to hammer out a lasting cease-fire.

"The two armies confront one another on a daily basis and new Thai aggression could arise at any moment," Hor Namhong told the judges. "It is time for international law to speak loudly."

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Start of Cambodian share trading delayed to end-2011

May 30 (Reuters) - Trading on Cambodia's long-awaited stock exchange, which was scheduled to start in July, has been delayed yet again until the end of the year because companies planning listings need more time to comply with regulations, operators said on Monday.

Ek Sonn Chan, director general of state-owned Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), said there were many details still to be ironed out but his company was going ahead with plans for a $20 million flotation.

"It's going to be a small offering, about 15 percent," he said, adding the company did not need the money for expansion. Rather, its listing was to help set ground rules for other companies wanting an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Han Kyung-tae, managing director of Tong Yang Securities (Cambodia), which is helping PPWSA and state owned Telecom Cambodia to prepare listings, said the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) already had systems and a platform in place, and there would be a "soft launch" on July 11.

"It's not going to be an easy task but as an underwriter, I am positive for a first IPO at the end of this year," Han Kyung-tae said.

In a statement posted on its website on Monday, the Finance Ministry said it was following the experience of other countries that had launched their market first so that it would have time to prepare for securities trading later.

At least 10 private companies want to list on the bourse besides state-owned PPWSA, Telecom Cambodia and Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, according to a government official, who declined to provide further details.

The stock exchange will quote share prices in the local riel currency , despite pleas from foreign investors who would prefer dollars because that would make it easier to assess risk.

The bulk of Cambodia's financial transactions are in dollars, which make up 90 percent of deposits and credits in the banking system in one of Asia's poorest countries.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia has granted licences to 15 securities firms to operate on the CSX -- seven underwriters, four brokers, two investment advisers and two dealers, most of them partly or wholly owned by Malaysian, Vietnamese, Japanese, South Korean or U.S. companies. (Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Alan Raybould)
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

FEATURE: Motorbiking midwives spread sex sense in Cambodia

Sitting in the shade of a large tree and surrounded by a group of women, Cambodian midwife Ly Siyan holds up a colorful poster displaying a range of contraception options.

Midwife Ly Siyan, right, shows villagers how to use a contraceptive device in a village in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, on Feb. 22.

She patiently waits for the giggles to subside when she points to a condom, aware that the two dozen women in the village of Chanloung in northwest Siem Reap Province have rarely experienced such an open discussion about sex.

Once the 37-year-old has their full attention again, she talks about long-term contraceptive methods and debunks some of the more persistent myths about their side effects.
For mother-of-two Beun Chem, 27, who wants to hold off having more children so she can focus on running her small shop, the midwife’s explanations are eye-opening.

“I am happy to learn about contraception and reduce some concerns I had. Now I want to try the implant,” said.

She said she first heard about the device — which is inserted under the skin of a woman’s arm and can prevent pregnancy for up to five years by releasing hormones into the bloodstream — on television.

However, “I didn’t know where they would put it,” she said, laughing.

As one of Cambodia’s first and only mobile midwives, Siyan has crisscrossed Siem Reap Province on her motorbike to give these sex education talks to women in remote areas.

Her efforts are part of a new project called “midwives-on--motos,” which currently operates in five provinces.

Launched by Marie Stopes International, a non-profit reproductive health organization, the program aims to improve family planning in Cambodia by traveling to where the services are most needed.

According to the most recent Cambodian government survey, a quarter of married women in the nation have unmet family planning needs.

For some women, especially in rural areas, it can be easier to get an abortion than seek out contraception.

Abortion rates are high as a result, with 56 percent of Cambodian women aged 15 to 49 reporting at least one abortion, official figures show.

“Rural and remote areas of Cambodia remain with limited access to reproductive health services,” said Nesim Tumkaya, officer-in-charge of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in the country.

“In Cambodia, abortion is legal, though we would like to see it minimized by ensuring that every woman and man has access to contraception,” he said.

However, simply improving access to services is not enough, Siyan said.

Another key challenge is to get women in this modest and traditional country to open up about their sexual health concerns.

“Younger girls especially can be very shy,” the experienced midwife said. “They do not talk openly to us, but they chat with their friends and that’s how misunderstandings spread. So I try to get them to open up by sharing my own experiences.”

Even in Cambodia’s towns and cities, where health services are easily available, timidness and privacy fears remain a barrier to seeking help with unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

“Our traditions and customs make women feel shy talking about sexual health or reproductive health,” Cambodian Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said. “Sometimes, a mother doesn’t dare broach the topic with her daughter. This can be dangerous because the girls lack information on protection and prevention.”

And as Cambodian youngsters are increasingly having sex before marriage, more education was imperative, the minister said.

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Cambodia's King seen as a prisoner in his own palace

In this May 21, 2011 photo, Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni greets wellwishers during an annual royal plowing ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The king may be heir to a royal line trailing back some 2,000 years, but he always    seemed more suited to the arts scene in Europe, than the rough and tumble politics of his homeland. Now, close aides and experts say, he has become figuratively, and more, a prisoner in his own palace.

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) --

As the sun sets and the last tourist departs his vast, fairy-tale palace, the gentle, dignified man is left almost alone with memories of happier times, before he became the reluctant king of Cambodia — and perhaps its last.

King Norodom Sihamoni may be heir to a royal line trailing back some 2,000 years, but he always seemed more suited to the arts scene in Europe, where he was a ballet dancer, than the rough and tumble politics of his homeland. Now, close aides and experts say, he has become figuratively, and more, a prisoner in his own palace.

The chief warden: Prime Minister Hun Sen, who rose from a poor rural background to become a brilliant and crafty, some say ruthless, politician.

Hun Sen consolidated power in a 1997 coup as Cambodia slowly emerged from being dragged into the Vietnam War and its own civil war. While the country is nominally democratic, he uses all the machinery of government to lock up critics and ensure his re-election. Human rights groups allege that he and his business friends are enriching themselves, while most of the population remains mired in poverty.

His control extends over the palace. The king is surrounded by the government's watchdogs, overseen by Minister of Royal Affairs Kong Som Ol, an official close to Hun Sen. Sihamoni is closely chaperoned on his few trips outside palace walls, with the media kept away. Although the constitution endows him with considerable powers, these have never been granted.

"I think we can use the words 'puppet king.' His power has been reduced to nothing," says Son Chhay, an opposition member of Parliament and one of the government's few outspoken critics. "The king must please the prime minister as much as possible in order to survive. It is sad to see."

It wasn't always so. Sihamoni's flamboyant and charismatic father, Norodom Sihanouk, bestrode the country like a colossus for decades. Many regarded him as a god-king, and thousands flocked to the plaza fronting the Royal Palace for fireworks and other lavish celebrations on his birthday.

Sihanouk abruptly abdicated in 2004 following confrontations with Hun Sen. Son Chhay and others say Sihamoni accepted the crown under pressure from parents hoping to ensure the survival of the monarchy.

Seven years later, "sad, lonely, abandoned" are words sympathetic Cambodians often use when describing Sihamoni. The 58-year-old monarch spends much of each day signing documents, receiving guests and handling other routine business, then retires mostly to dine alone and read, says Prince Sisowath Thomico, Sihanouk's private secretary and an adviser to his son.

Unlike his father, who had six wives and numerous lovers, Sihamoni is a lifelong bachelor and unlikely to leave an heir.

His birthday passed recently with little notice. Within the palace's crenelated walls, among the graceful pavilions and gilt spires, there was no sign of activity. Outside, knots of people went about their normal evening pastimes at the grassy, riverfront square, feeding pigeons, lounging on reed mats and snacking on lotus seeds and noodles.

"The king is a good, gentle man, a symbol of Cambodia. But he has one problem: no power. He only stays inside the palace. On television the leaders bow down before him but behind his back there is no respect," said Sin Chhay, a young civil servant at the plaza. "You could say that Hun Sen is the real king of Cambodia."

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith insists the king is involved in social and religious affairs and judicial reviews, receives a monthly report from Hun Sen on government activities and makes recommendations on them.

"The current King Sihamoni has played an important role in restoring the ... monarchy. As a king and symbol of national unity he maintains strict neutrality and doesn't become involved in any political activities," he said. "To say that he's a prisoner in the palace would be inappropriate."

Sihamoni, a former ballet dancer and cultural ambassador, spent 25 years in Czechoslovakia and France. That European past, Western diplomats say, is his great escape.

He returns regularly to what is now the Czech Republic, calling it "my second homeland," and has said his time in Prague "belongs to the happiest in my life." Fluent in the language — which reportedly vexes his keepers trying to eavesdrop on conversations with Czech visitors — he avidly reads Czech theater reviews and savors DVDs of ballets and operas.

He keeps in close touch with the family that cared for him after he arrived in the Czech capital at age 9. Thirteen years later, he graduated from Prague's Academy of Musical Art.

Shortly after, he joined his parents, who were being kept under virtual house arrest within the palace by the brutal Khmer Rouge government, which came to power after defeating a U.S.-backed government in 1975. Sihamoni worked in the palace gardens and cleaned out the throne hall.

An estimated 1.7 million people died during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, including more than a dozen of Sihanouk's children and relatives.

Three decades later, the country is still coming to terms with that period. A U.N.-assisted tribunal is trying a handful of the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, but the trials have been plagued by long delays and corruption allegations.

Sihamoni has had only ceremonial involvement with the tribunal. Any deeper association would irritate both Hun Sen and Sihanouk, who for a time allied himself with the Khmer Rouge but has also supported the trials.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk went to Paris, from where he backed resistance against a Vietnamese-installed government that replaced it.

Sihamoni also went to the French capital and stayed on even after his father was restored as king in 1993. He taught, performed and choreographed classical Cambodian dance as well as Western ballet and served as ambassador to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

He gave up this much-cherished life to become king in 2004.

The king's high privy councilor, Son Soubert, who is aligned with one of the two small opposition parties with parliamentary seats, says the government has blocked passage of two constitutional provisions: the formation of a potentially powerful Supreme Council of National Defense headed by the king, and an annual National Congress that would continue the tradition of citizens appealing directly to the monarch.

Commenting on the congress, the information minister said that in today's Cambodia such a meeting would be a mess and powerless to override any decisions made by an elected National Assembly.

Some question just how much power Sihamoni wants to wield or is capable of exercising.

"If he were to try to take a political role I have no doubt Hun Sen would act to diminish him and the monarchy generally almost immediately. Which is why he is effectively a prisoner in the palace," says Milton Osborne, an Australian historian and author of a Sihanouk biography. "He could very well be the last king of Cambodia."

Prince Sisowath Thomico, the adviser, insists there is no animosity between king and prime minister and says Cambodia's monarchy has merely entered a new stage, shedding its political role.

"The king now serves as a guardian of the past, of tradition, the moral character of Cambodia and points the way ahead for future generations," he says. "We leave the present to the government."

By most accounts, Sihamoni is still largely respected, especially in the countryside. He is probably considered less relevant in urban areas, especially among an extremely young population — the median age is about 23 — that was not around during Sihanouk's heyday, before violence engulfed the country.

Prince Norodom Ranarridh, who heads a pro-monarchy party, believes Cambodians are "still royalists at heart" and holds a nuanced view of his half brother.

The king doesn't exercise his prerogatives under the constitution to avoid jeopardizing an institution he regards as more important than himself, Ranarridh said. At the same time, Sihamoni's personality is unassertive, so he falls comfortably into the role of doing the minimum.

"So both the king and prime minister are very happy with the situation. It is some kind of a gentlemen's agreement," the prince says, laughing.

But he adds: "I don't think my brother is very happy. He would like to be somewhere else."


Associated Press writer Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this story.
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Funds raised for Cambodian children

By Sharon See

SINGAPORE: More than 700 people in Singapore on Sunday raised some S$80,000 for hungry children in Cambodia.

Participants of the "Walk the World" event started their early morning charity event at Dalbergia Green at East Coast Park.

The walk was organised by global logistics company TNT Express, in partnership with the United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP).

The event has been held annually for the past nine years, and this year, it was conducted across 41 countries to raise awareness and funds for the School Feeding Programme in Cambodia.

Since 2002, TNT Express has invested more than USD$50 million in the partnership with the WFP.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cambodia stands firm on temple talks set for June in France

CHIANG MAI, May 28 -- The Cambodian government has rejected a plan proposed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to delay the consideration of management plan for Preah Vihear temple until Thailand and Cambodia finish border demacation, said Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti on Saturday.

Speaking to journalists after returning from a special meeting organised by UNESCO held earlier this week in Paris, which ended in deadlock, Mr Suwit, who headed the Thai delegation at the meeting, said the Cambodian delegates led by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An was against the idea of postponement of management plan for Preah Vihear, which was earlier listed as World Herritage.

He said a fresh talks on the issue between Thailand and Cambodia may be organised again just before the 25th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) scheduled to be held between June 19-29.

Delegations from Thailand and Cambodia had spent three days on bilateral and individual consultations at UNESCO but failed to reach any agreement on disputes over the Preah Vihear temple.

The UNESCO-organised meeting was scheduled prior to the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in an attempt to resolve the two countries differences, after Cambodia opposed Thailand's request that the committee defer consideration of Cambodia's one-party Preah Vihear management plan until the International Court of Justice rules on its complaint and awaiting progress on border demarcation at the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) meeting.

Last month Cambodia asked the court to clarify a 1962 ruling on the ancient Hindu temple on its disputed border with Thailand following recent deadly armed clashes between the two neighbouring countries.

Members of the WHC and UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova are scheduled to meet between June 19-29 in France, after this week's discussions on the management plan for areas surrounding the World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple ended without any headway, while Thailand was able to convince the world agency to postpone consideration of the disputed issue until border demarcation work is completed.

The Cambodian delegates were against Thailand's proposal on the postponement and also asked to amend two or three points. Thailand has to see whether the changes, if made, would have any impact on the country with regards to the disputed land, Mr Suwit said.

He reiterated that talks on the framework of the two countries' General Border Committee (GBC) must be cleared first before next month's WHC session in Paris.

Mr Suwit insisted that border demarcation work must also be completed before the management plan for the disputed area is finalized.

The Paris-based UN cultural branch said in a statement following the meeting between Mr Suwit and Mr Sok An that the UNESCO Director-General Bokova expressed her disappointment on Friday after Thai and Cambodian delegations failed to reach an agreement on disputes over the Temple of Preah Vihear.

Though the two parties had "affirmed their will to protect and preserve the Temple," Bokova voiced "disappointment at the fact that no agreement was reached between the Parties on concrete steps ahead of the forthcoming World Heritage Committee session," said the statement.

"I appeal to both countries to pursue efforts towards achieving a common agreement before the World Heritage Committee session in June in a spirit of cooperation and constructive dialogue," the UNESCO chief said.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the 11th century Preah Vihear temple belonged to Phnom Penh, while the UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in July 2008 after Cambodia unilaterally applied for the status. Clashes in the area have occurred frequently since then, as both countries claim a 4.6-square-kilometre patch of land near the cliff-top temple. (MCOT online news)
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Cambodia 'opposes' bid to delay temple plan

By The Nation on Sunday

Cambodia has voiced opposition to a Thai proposal to delay Unesco's bid to consider the management plan for Preah Vihear Temple, Suwit Khunkitti, the Natural Resources and Environment Minister, says.

Suwit, who has just returned from France, said Unesco did not want to see more casualties in the Thai-Cambodian conflict revolving around Preah Vihear Temple, which was unilaterally listed by Cambodia as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Thailand has asked Unesco to postpone deliberations on the management plan for Preah Vihear to the 2012 meeting.

Thailand also has proposed hosting the next meeting, as have Cambodia and Russia.

However, Cambodia was against the postponement and wanted the Preah Vihear management plan to be discussed at the upcoming meeting from June 19-29.

Thailand's position is that the management plan should be discussed only when the Thai-Cambodian border demarcation is done. Suwit said a further delay is in Thailand's interest and it would take some time to complete the border demarcation if both countries join hands to do that.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will soon hand documents and other evidence to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to defend Thailand after Cambodia asked the court to interpret the 1962 ruling on Preah Vihear Temple.

Kasit said Unesco appeared to have a good understanding of the issue, as the border has not yet been agreed on.
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Vietnam, Cambodia cooperate in rubber planting

Yuon Khmer friendship is YUO business on Khmer land.  It is the very high demands never end.  We don't need this kind cooperation any more.  Is Hun Sen being stupid?

(VOV) - Vietnam is currently implementing rubber growing projects in Cambodia, aiming to plant 100,000 hectares of rubber trees in five Cambodian provinces by 2012.

The projects are part of a trade promotion plan approved by the Prime Ministers of both countries at the Vietnam-Cambodia business conference in April 2011.

A seminar was held in Phnom Penh on May 27 to offer tax reductions and exemptions for businesses involved in rubber growing projects in Cambodia.

Cambodian officials highlighted the significance and benefits of these projects, saying that the projects helped upgrade infrastructure, provide clean water, build houses for workers and pagodas for religious followers, thereby improving local people’s incomes. Read more!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thai team claims Unesco backs its proposal to delay management plan


Though Thailand and Cambodia yesterday failed to reach common ground on the management of the much-contested Preah Vihear Temple, the Thai team claimed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) was supporting its proposal to delay the plan.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti had given him the "good news".

Suwit was in Paris yesterday to meet Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova to negotiate a delay in the World Heritage Committee's consideration of the Preah Vihear management plan at its upcoming 35th session on June 19-29.

Suwit claimed that Bokova supported Thailand's proposal to delay consideration of the plan, adding that she later met with Sok An and Senior Minister in Charge of Border Affairs Va Kim Hong to propose that Cambodia withdraw its management plan until both countries could determine their common border.

The Cambodian delegation at the Paris meeting said it disagreed with the proposal, but was leaving the decision up to the government in Phnom Penh.

The meeting was held in order to settle differences between the two neighbouring countries over the World Heritage Site inscription of Preah Vihear ahead of the committee's next session.

Thailand has been accusing Cambodia of trespassing territory adjacent to the temple that Thailand claims comes under its sovereignty and is refusing to consider the neighbouring country's management plan for Preah Vihear until both countries are able to settle the boundary dispute.

The two countries have been at loggerheads over Preah Vihear for a long time now, but the conflict intensified after the temple was inscribed in 2008. Major clashes broke out in the border region in February, causing lots of casualties and damages.

"We want to tell the World Heritage Committee that Preah Vihear's World Heritage inscription led to military conflict between the two countries," Abhisit told reporters. "If Cambodia insists on continuing [with the plan], we will protect our rights. We will tell the world that Thailand has never created problems."

Beside the management plan, the two countries are also fighting the Preah Vihear case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), because Cambodia has asked the court to clarify its 1962 ruling on the temple.

The court will hold a public hearing on Monday and Tuesday regarding Cambodia's request asking the court to grant provisional measures to have Thai troops withdrawn from the temple's vicinity.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya flew to The Hague for the hearing yesterday. His Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong is also expected to be present.

The court will take three weeks to make a decision on the provisional measures and will ask both sides to submit their opinion on the ruling's interpretation by September or October, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi.
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Cambodia’s troubled past inspired O.C. playwright


Cambodia is a land filled with untold stories.

They're everywhere: in the beautiful relics of an ancient religion at the temples of Angkor Wat, in the unspeakable tragedies of the country's more recent past under the Pol Pot regime.

"It's a place that leaves a deep impression. It inspired me in ways I didn't expect," said Irvine-born playwright David Wiener, whose new play, "Extraordinary Chambers," was prompted by a visit to Cambodia. It debuts June 1 at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.

Wiener traveled to Cambodia in 2008 with his sister, wife and parents. "It was a trip to Thailand and then everyone went on this short side trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat."

The family's guide on the Cambodian trek was a man named Sopoan. "He was very knowledgeable and really good at describing the history and art of the place," Wiener recalled. "During the course of our tour he and I developed a deeper dialogue."

Sopoan revealed his past to Wiener.
"During the Khmer Rouge era he had been a high school physics teacher -- a dangerous occupation then. Intellectuals and educated people were the enemy. I had this humbling and unsettling feeling that I was ... just encountering the veneer of a place and beneath it was all of the complex history and deep loss. And this man put it into a human, empathetic frame."

Sopoan's story hinted at a time and place that tried people in unimaginable ways. That revelation galvanized the playwright.

"I came back to New York and dropped the play I was working on and immediately started reading a lot about Cambodia. I wasn't even aware that there was this huge international effort to reconcile the genocide that happened there in the 1970s and lay the blame at the feet of these old men and women who were still alive."

Wiener also discovered that the Pol Pot era of forced agrarian socialist reform (1976-79) is still a delicate subject in Cambodia.

"To this day the regime of Pol Pot and the subsequent civil war still isn't taught in Cambodian schools. You're talking about a country that eliminated 20 percent of its population -- an entire generation, really." (By some estimates, 2.5 million Cambodians died as a result of the unrest.) "Anyone you meet there is not that many degrees removed from the violence that happened. There are perpetrators living with victims."


Wiener, a 1991 graduate of Irvine's University High School, has won several major awards and received commissions from Atlantic Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, SoHo Rep and A Contemporary Theater. His Hollywood drama, "System Wonderland," was produced at SCR in 2007.

"Extraordinary Chambers" is a departure for him in several respects, the playwright said. This is the first time he has delved deeply into another culture and created characters based on notorious real-life sources.

"Extraordinary Chambers" pits American and Cambodian values against each other in a story that involves an American telecommunications executive, his troubled wife, and a mysterious Cambodian official named Dr. Heng. He and his wife, Rom Chang, live in a dilapidated villa. Heng has a taste for expensive French wine and oozes old world charm; Rom is suspicious and withdrawn.

Gradually, secrets are revealed as characters learn more about each other and conflicting needs collide.

The American couple, Carter and Mara, desperately wants to be parents -- a plot element that paralleled Wiener's life at the time (he's now the father of a 16-month old child).

"My wife and I were struggling to have children and I think that need was present in my own life. And the isolating aspect of what it's like for a couple to go through fertility treatments and then adoption in a foreign land, I really wanted to make that an element in the play."


Wiener said Heng and his wife closely resemble figures from the Khmer Rouge regime. What interested him wasn't their culpability but the moral circumstances that they were forced to face.

"It's easy to look at people who are instrumental in acts of horrible violence and dismiss or condemn them. But their internal rationale is very fascinating -- the reasons they say why they did what they did."

Wiener came away form his research convinced that there is less separating us from war-torn Cambodia than we think.

"Really, the only thing different between us and them is the circumstances. It's hard for us to imagine what we are capable of to ensure our own survival."

Wiener said that writing "Extraordinary Chambers" pushed his skills and sensitivities to the limit.

"It's a tough situation as a writer and a challenging one. This particular history doesn't belong to me.

"But the play is about what it's like to engage in the history that doesn't belong to you. I tried to be sensitive and careful and accurate, and as empathetic as possible. So much of what drove me to write the play was how little I understood, and how badly I wanted to understand."
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UNESCO convenes meeting with Cambodia and Thailand over Preah Vihear dispute

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday convened a meeting with Cambodia and Thailand delegations over the Preah Vihear dispute.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova facilitated three days of bilateral meetings between to discuss conservation issues concerning the World Heritage site of Preah Vihear temple.

The meeting was held in a positive atmosphere of cooperation and dialogue. Bokova convened the discussions in order to reach an agreement on enhancing the temple's state of conservation following recent threats to the property and the border disputes near the site.

Bokova expressed satisfaction that the two governments attended the meeting but no agreement was reached. However, Suwit Khunkitti, Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, and Cambodian Vice-Prime Minister Sok An discussed the issues affecting the World Heritage site.

"I appeal to both countries to pursue efforts towards achieving a common agreement before the World Heritage Committee session in June in a spirit of cooperation and constructive dialogue," added Bokova.

Also on Friday, Thailand announced that Caretaker Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will present the Thailand's argument in the Preah Vihear dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) next week in the Hague.

Cambodia previously claimed property of the 11th century temple and the disputed surrounding area based on a 1962 verdict by ICJ. The Cambodian government asked the international court to clarify the ruling.

The 1962 ruling stated that the temple was in Cambodian soil but did not clarify the ownership of the surrounding area. Thai and Cambodian troops have been engaged in border fighting since earlier this year.

Both nations' soldiers remain deployed in the 4.6 square kilometer area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on their shared border. Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the site.

The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed. Clashes resumed in February and the 900-year-old temple was damaged during clashes.

In 2008, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-meter-long axis.
Read more!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fundraiser in Regina to free children from horrors of sex trafficking

By Pamela Cowan, Leader-Post May 26, 2011 5:38 PM REGINA -- Since Dr. Al Purvis and his wife Terry began living in Thailand 30 years ago, they have seen the ongoing horrors of human sex trafficking there and in Cambodia.

Based in Sriracha, Thailand, the couple have set up churches in nine Asian nations under the banner of Victory Churches International.

Purvis said finding a solution to the sex trade is a delicate process.

“You can take girls out one end and new ones will just come in the other end,” he said. “These operations aren’t going to stop just because some of the prostitutes get rescued.”

Purvis will speak at an international feast being held Friday night at Regina Victory Church. The event is being held in partnership with Not4Sale, an organization that raises funds to establish safe houses for children who are exploited in the sex industry in Thailand and Cambodia.

“Our approach is if we can plant churches in there along with these social operations, we can give the people some hope, give them some reason to live,” Purvis said. “It definitely takes time ... The hope is really to train the next generation who will rise up as leaders.”

Poverty is rampant in Cambodia which is why Purvis believes more children are sold into that country’s sex trade than in Thailand.

“You have mothers who will sell their daughters or allow their children to go into prostitution just to survive,” Purvis said of the sex trade in Cambodia.

He described Thailand’s sex business as “flashy and slick” and generally prostitutes aren’t young children forced to work in the trade.

“There’s all the nightclubs and cabarets and it’s common everywhere,” Purvis said. “A lot of families think, ‘Here’s our opportunity.’ ”

In Pattaya, 20 kilometres south of where he and Terry live, a beach is divided into sections.

“The first section is guys looking for girls, the next section one would be pedophiles, the next one would be guys looking for guys,” Purvis said. “It’s blatant ... The pimps will pull into a village in rural Thailand and say, ‘We have an opportunity for your daughters to go to work in Bangkok.’ They’ll take them on the understanding that they’re going to get a job and then they’ll end up as prostitutes.”

He said human sex trafficking can be heartbreaking unless you think long-term.

“In the short term, you do what you can to save lives,” Purvis said.

He and his wife added to their family by rescuing orphans of the Vietnam War from refugee camps.

“These kids were ripe for the prostitution thing,” Purvis said. “We have four of our own and another 27 that we have legal custody of in Thailand. Some of them we got when they were newborns, some were up to six years old.”

Only two children remain in the Purvis home.

“They have grown up and are such tremendous men and women. They’re working in jobs and are leaders of society. It’s a long-term job, but the results are really rewarding.”

The feast at Regina Victory Church begins at 6 p.m. The $30 tickets can be reserved by calling 545-7885 or on the website (
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Philippines 'ready to help' in Thai-Cambodian row

BANGKOK — Philippine President Benigno Aquino said his country was prepared to step in to help resolve a bitter Thai-Cambodian border row, during a visit to Bangkok on Thursday.

Aquino said that the Philippines was ready to send observers to help efforts to cool the dispute, which erupted into deadly clashes between the neighbours last month, if they were needed.

"If both sides are interested, the Philippines is ready to help," he told reporters following a meeting with Thailand's leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The fighting, which left 18 dead and temporarily displaced 85,000, dominated the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this month, and failure to find a resolution raised doubts over the effectiveness of regional diplomacy.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia centre on a small patch of land surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, although the most recent clashes were about 150 km (90 miles) further west.

The relationship between the neighbours has been strained since Preah Vihear was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed in February to accept Indonesian military observers on the border but the initiative remains on ice due to Thai demands that Cambodia first pull troops out of the temple.

Aquino, who arrived in Thailand Thursday afternoon, is expected to meet members of the Filipino community in Bangkok before departing for Manila on Friday afternoon.
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Cambodia Sees Week of Chinese Beneficence

China donated 50,000 uniforms to Cambodia’s armed forces on Thursday, adding to a week of Chinese donations and agreements and coinciding with peacekeeping training for Cambodian personnel with US forces.

Zhang Jianlin, military attaché for the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, handed the uniforms over to Sun Samnang, director general of logistics for the Cambodian Ministry of Defense, in a ceremony at the Phnom Penh military airbase.

The donation included 50,000 uniforms, along with accompanying hats, shoes and belts and adds to a donation of 257 military trucks a year ago.

“The Chinese Defense Ministry hopes that the uniforms will help relieve a shortage in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and the donation also reflects the honest and good cooperation between the Chinese and Cambodian armies,” Zhang said.

Moeung Samphan, secretary of state for Cambodian Defense Ministry, who attended the ceremony, said the armed forces would have use of the uniforms, “fulfilling a shortage for our soldiers.”

On Wednesday Chinese Ambassador Pan Guangxue donated 200 Chinese-language books to the Confucius Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia. And on Tuesday, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh signed a trade agreement with the president of the Chinese Chamber of International Commerce, Wan Jifei.

Wan said Tuesday he hoped the two countries would reach bilateral trade volume of $2.5 billion in 2012.

Meanwhile, Cambodian peacekeeping troops are expected to end training with US personnel on Friday.
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Cambodia says "no" to GBC meeting unless "package solution" complied

PHNOM PENH, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Defense Ministry on Thursday evening rejected media reports that "Cambodia agrees to host General Border Committee (GBC) meeting with Thailand."

The rejection was made after Thai media reported that Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Thai defense minister, said Thursday the Thai- Cambodian GBC meeting will be held in Cambodia after an Indonesian Survey Team arrives at the Thai-Cambodian disputed border near the Preah Vihear temple.

"Cambodia is now ready to hold 8th GBC meeting," the Bangkok Post online newspaper quoted Prawit as saying. "Gen. Tea Banh has already informed me that GBC will certainly be arranged in Cambodia."

"Cambodian defense ministry absolutely rejected this fabricated information by Thai Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan," said a Defense Ministry's statement on Thursday evening.

"This information is contradicted to the spirit of the package solution which Cambodian, Thai and Indonesia foreign ministers agreed on May 9 in Jakarta, Indonesia," it said.

The statement added that the package solution has already pointed out the procedures for the solution.

"So the first and indispensable implementation is: Thailand must respond positively to the package solution," it said. "It is absolutely unacceptable to act otherwise and inconsistent with the package solution."

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962 and the temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

The border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand occurred just a week after the enlistment as Thailand claims the ownership of 4. 6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.

Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulting in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.

The two sides agreed to accept Indonesian observers to monitor a ceasefire on their respective border side on Feb. 22 at the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Jakarta, but the deployment was always delayed because Thailand demanded that Cambodian soldiers and locals be withdrawn from the disputed area of 4.6 sq km near the temple first.
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ASEAN legislators, experts meet in Cambodia for anti-drug efforts

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) - Cambodia on Thursday hosted the 8th meeting of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Fact Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to combat drug menace.

The meeting was attended by ASEAN's parliamentarians, representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and ASEAN senior officials on drugs matters.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Heng Samrin, President of Cambodian National Assembly, said the meeting was very significant to find strategic ways and effective resolutions to prevent, manage and combat drug menace in the region.

"Currently, illicit drugs are posing the main common concern over our region," he said. "Therefore, a joint effort among ASEAN legislators and law practitioners is indispensable to fight the drug menace in order to attain the ASEAN's vision: a drug-free ASEAN community by 2015."

The two-day meeting would discuss and adopt the draft resolution on the Harmonization of Illegal Drug Laws on Capture and Seizure of Assets used in or Possessed from Drug Related Cases; the control of Reactants and Precursors and Demand Reduction Interventions, according to the meeting's programs.

Also, it would pass the draft resolution on the establishment of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Working Group to Combat the Drug Menace.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to Cambodia for Summit County local

Local philanthropist returns to Cambodia, steps back from charity work

In 1997, Summit County local Doug Mendel was traveling through Asia when he made as short stop in Cambodia.

The three days he spent there would change the course of his life.

“I went there as a traveler and those three days captivated my heart,” Mendel said. “I fell in love with the people, the culture, the weather.”

That love would draw him back to the small, southeast Asian nation 16 times over the next 14 years and inspire him to found the Douglas Mendel Cambodian Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization providing Cambodian firefighters with much-needed equipment, training and even fire trucks.

Now, as he prepares for his 17th trip, Mendel is winding down his charity work, though he says, the friendships he has built through his work in Cambodia will keep him a frequent visitor to the country he loves so much.

“I tell people now, when all's said and done, it's the friendships with the Cambodian people I treasure the most,” Mendel said. “I'm trying to step back from what I've done in the past, just because I got burned out and … I've realized I still have a passion and a love for the people and that's something I don't want to give up ever.”

On this next trip, a brief 11 days, Mendel plans to visit three towns, checking on the two fire trucks he has had donated and the many friends he has made over the years.

Mendel's philanthropic work really began in 2001, he says, when, on a third vacation in Cambodia he spotted a fire station.

“I was a volunteer firefighter for Lake Dillon (Fire Rescue) and I thought I could help,” Mendel said.

He returned home and asked the Lake Dillon fire chief if there were any supplies that could be donated. In 2003, he returned to Cambodia with a box of gear and a question.

“With the help of a Cambodian friend, I explained that this was a gift from a fire station in Colorado, and (asked) them to tell me what they wanted and I would do my best to bring other supplies on the next trip. Long story short, it turns into a nonprofit.”

Cambodia is a country of almost 15 million people, about 30 percent of whom live below poverty levels. While fires are not a particularly big problem, the country's fire stations are grossly undersupplied.

“Firefighters in Cambodia just don't have the proper equipment and training to protect the community in which they live,” Mendel said.

Over the years he's done his best to remedy that, collecting thousands of dollars in donations to support firefighters, and in 2006 he helped a fire truck donated by Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue find its way to the fire station in the village of Preynop.

That engine has responded to approximately 15 calls over the last five years, most recently a structure fire where the truck helped protect the surrounding area from the flames.

Mendel has also traveled with American firefighters, who helped train Cambodian emergency responders. All of that was in addition to what he says amounted to about two tons of gear, including helmets, boots and gloves.

But ultimately, he said, he got more out of his work than he gave.

“It's given me a purpose,” Mendel said. “It's been an incredible journey.”

Summit County businesses and individuals have always been very supportive of his efforts. Mendel said, though he is winding down his work, he encourages anyone interested in his work or looking for an update to get in touch with him at dough@the

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Thailand unperturbed by Cambodian charges on Preah Vihear shooting: PM

BANGKOK, May 25 - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday downplayed allegations by Phnom Penh that the ancient Preah Vihear Hindu temple was attacked by Thai troops in the recent border skirmishes, asserting that Indonesian observers would not be allowed to enter disputed area unless the General Border Committee (GBC) meeting is held.

The Thai prime minister made his remarks following reports that Cambodia will file a complaint with the World Heritage Committee (WHC) accusing Thai troops of firing about 400 rounds of ammunition targeting the ancient temple ruin.

Mr Abhisit said he is unworried about the latest move of the Cambodian government as it is clear that Cambodia breached the WHC agreement by allowing its troops to enter Preah Vihear temple.

"We also stand firm that the sole management of Preah Vihear temple and its surrounding area by Cambodia will intensify the conflict and every country concerned should help ease the problem, not creating the new ones," according to Mr Abhisit.

The meeting between Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia on the renewed border dispute has been held during the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) early this month, with the conclusion that the observers from Indonesia could come to inspect the border areas after agreeing to withdraw Cambodian troops from the 4.6 sq km area is signed as a result from the GBC meeting between both neighbours.

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh did not adhere to the agreement we made at the ASEAN summit, Mr Abhisit said.

As Cambodia charged that Thailand has cancelled the planned GBC meeting, Mr Abhisit denied the allegation, saying the GBC meeting can still be held.

Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti is now in Paris to meet with WHC and his Cambodian counterpart, prior to the meeting of the UNESCO the World Heritage Committee scheduled to be held in June.

The premier said he can assess the situation regarding the UNESCO posigion only when Minister Suwit returns from the Paris meeting, but said he always believed that Thailand and Cambodia could still solve the border dispute by dialogue.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled 49 years ago that the 11th-century Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand. However both countries claim ownership of the 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

Last month Cambodia asked the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about the ancient temple on its disputed border with Thailand following the latest armed clashes between the two neighbouring countries. (MCOT online news)
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Team Finds Widespread Cluster Munitions Near Border

The Cambodian Mine Action Center has found more than 300 hectares of land peppered with cluster munitions, believed to be fired by Thailand during border fighting in February.

Clearance of the unexploded ordnance could take up to a year or more, demining officials said, following an assessment of the area by CMAC and Norwegian People’s Aid.

“We are searching for more areas affected with submunitions of cluster munitions,” CMAC Secretary-General Heng Ratana told VOA Khmer Wednesday.

Jan Erik Stea, program manager for mines at Norwegian People’s Aid, told reporters Wednesday the munitions were found druing a two-day assessment in April. Twelve areas, including four in villages, spread over more than 1.5 million square meters in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Khsant district were identified, he said.

“Between 5,000 and 10,000 people will be directly impacted by the cluster munitions,” he said. “They have small submunitions between the houses, which is of course a danger for the people living there.”

Two types of submunitions—M42 and M85—were identified, he said.
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Cambodian activist says UN risks failing Khmer Rouge victims

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian rights activist warned the United Nations on Wednesday it would fail the victims of the Khmer Rouge unless it ensured that two controversial cases at the war crimes tribunal were properly investigated.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, made his comments in a public letter to Clint Williamson, who acts as liaison between UN headquarters and the government, during his trip to Phnom Penh.

Ou Virak's comments come amid fears the UN is working to shut down the third and fourth cases at the behest of the government. Prime Minister Hun Sen has long said he would not permit either case to go to trial, citing a risk of civil war.

Ou Virak, whose father was killed by the Khmer Rouge, warned against any decision to close the UN-backed tribunal at the conclusion of its second case, which is due to start on June 27.

'If such a decision is indeed effected, it will fatally undermine the integrity of the (tribunal) and the justice which it seeks to dispense in all cases, including Cases 001 and 002,' he wrote.

In its first case, the tribunal last year convicted the Khmer Rouge's head of security, Comrade Duch, of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court's second case is against four senior surviving leaders of the movement.

The next two cases reportedly involve five former members thought responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during 1975-79.

But observers have said political opposition and UN inaction mean they have little chance of getting to trial.

Ou Virak singled out the tribunal's international investigating judge, Siegfried Blunk, a German national, whose office closed the file in the third case last month without interviewing the suspects or investigating alleged crime sites.

Subsequent public comments by the international prosecutor, Andrew Cayley, seemed to confirm long-standing rumours that Blunk's office had done little work on the case.

Ou Virak said that while the government's opposition to cases three and four was well-known, Blunk's role as the international investigating judge 'is a matter of utmost concern.'

'(Blunk's) actions raise the question of whether the United Nations has conceded to the demands of the (Cambodian government) and is now acting to prevent any further cases from going to trial and to ensure the closure of the (tribunal) with the conclusion of Case 002,' he wrote.

Both the tribunal and UN headquarters have refused to answer questions about the controversial cases. When asked earlier this month whether the court was trying to bury cases three and four, Blunk, who took up his post in December, responded with a threat.

'The use of the word 'bury' is insolent, for which you are given leave to apologize within two days,' Blunk wrote in an email without specifying a penalty.

Blunk has since refused to answer any questions from the German Press Agency dpa.

The UN has also repeatedly refused to answer any questions on the next cases.

Case Four is still with the investigating judges' office, which is led jointly by Blunk and Cambodian judge You Bunleng.

More than 2 million people are thought to have died during the Khmer Rouge's rule of Cambodia.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Unesco urged to delay study of temple plan

Cambodia's management plan for Preah Vihear temple trespasses on Thai territory, according to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, who said yesterday he would call on the World Heritage Committee to delay consideration of the plan for another year.

Suwit was scheduled to meet Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Paris today and discuss postponing the management plan until both countries are able to settle the border row

"We should stop fighting and instead cooperate to have the boundary demarcated via the Joint Boundary Commission," Suwit told reporters.
"Once the boundary demarcation is completed, this problem would be resolved. Cambodia would then have the freedom to do what it wants on its own land."

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over Preah Vihear for a long time, and the conflict intensified when the World Heritage Committee and Unesco agreed to list the Hindu temple as a World Heritage Site in 2008.

Thailand disagreed with the listing and wants the committee to delay consideration of the temple's management plan, as it fears Cambodia would seize land near the temple, which Thailand claims as its own.

Sok An said on Monday said Cambodia's plan would not affect Thailand as it only covered Cambodian territory.

Sok An said he was prepared to discuss the management plan with Suwit and tell Unesco about the damage inflicted upon the temple during the major military clash between Thai and Cambodian troops in February.

Cambodia would also urge Unesco to dispatch its experts to evaluate the damage and consider renovation, he said.

Meanwhile, Phnom Penh's National Committee for World Heritage issued a statement earlier arguing that Suwit has no reason to delay the consideration of the Preah Vihear's management plan as the World Heritage Committee had decided last year to consider the documents during its 35th session this year.

"It is worth recalling that Mr Suwit himself signed [the document], with the Cambodian head of delegation and chairperson of the session, and recognised the draft Decision," the statement said.

The World Heritage Committee will be holding its 35th session from June 1929 in Paris.
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Court Upholds Charges Against Angkor Lighting Critic

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a guilty verdict for a man accused of disinformation, following public remarks critical of a lighting project at Angkor Wat, but reduced the charges against him.

Moeung Sonn, who has fled the country, is facing a two-year prison sentence following a suit brought by the government in 2009. He had disseminated public remarks claiming the Apsara Authority was potentially damaging Angkor Wat by installing a lighting system around the temple.

Apsara officials denied the lights, which have since been taken down, posed a threat to the temple.

Moeung Sonn’s original charge of disinformation was dropped to “insulting” the Cambodian people. His two-year sentence was upheld, but a fine against him was dropped from about $3,500 to less than $1,000.

Defense attorney Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said he work with the defendant’s family to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Moeung Sonn’s wife, Yi Phally, 66, told reporters outside the court Wednesday her husband had only intended to protect the temples, not criticize the government. She also pointed out that the lights have since been taken down.
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Cambodia and China Build Trade

Cambodia and China sign trade promotion co-operation

Cambodian Ministry of Commerce and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the development of bilateral trade.

The MoU was inked between Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and Wan Jifei, visiting Chairman of CCPIT and president of China Chamber of International Commerce.

Speaking before the signing ceremony, Cham Prasidh said the agreement will be useful for Cambodia to strengthen and expand trade cooperation with China.

“As Cambodia and China have good relations in all levels ranging from the two countries’ governments to business people and people, I believe that Cambodia and China will be able to achieve the bi-lateral trade volume of US$2.5B in Y 2012,” he said.

The minister has suggested China to help encourage Chinese investors and people to purchase Cambodian agricultural products such as rice, corn, cassava and rubber in order to fulfill the expected trade target in Y 2012.

Meanwhile, Wan Jifei said that the 2 countries’ cooperation in terms of trade and investment has a lot of room to grow.

He added that through the agreement, the CCPIT will encourage more Chinese investors to come to Cambodia, and will arrange more meetings between the two countries’ business people, and will organize trade fairs in China or in Cambodia.

Wan Jifei stressed that currently, the exports of Cambodian products to China are done mostly by the third country such as Vietnam or Thailand. “This is the reason that Cambodia’s exports to China are far fewer than those China’s exports to Cambodia because the 3rd country buys products from Cambodia and exports to China,”he said, adding “so, to re-balance the 2 countries’ trade, it’s necessary that Cambodian and Chinese business people have to meet more often in order to bridge direct trade between the 2 countries.”

Paul A. Ebeling, JnrPaul A. Ebeling, Jnr. writes and publishes The Red Roadmaster’s Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a weekly, highly-regarded financial market letter, read by opinion makers, business leaders and organizations around the world.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr has studied the global financial and stock markets since 1984, following a successful business career that included investment banking, and market and business analysis. He is a specialist in equities/commodities, and an accomplished chart reader who advises technicians with regard to Major Indices Resistance/Support Levels.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Brunei-Cambodia Close Relationship

Brunei Darussalam and other ASEAN countries have always maintained a close relationship. The Kingdom of Cambodia is of no exception as cooperation between Brunei and Cambodia have grown closer over the years in terms of bilateral economic and social developments.

In an interview, the Outgoing Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia, His Excellency Mr Nan Sy said, Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia have shared various programs to assist development particularly in the areas of education and agriculture.

His Excellency Nan Sy who has been the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to Brunei Darussalam since May 2006, will be departing on the 29th of May. This afternoon, His Excellency was entertained to a farewell reception. It was attended by several Brunei Government officials and foreign envoys.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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PM: Indonesian 'surveyors' to inspect Thai-Cambodian border

BANGKOK, May 23 - Indonesia as the current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will initially send a team of surveyors, not observers, to inspect the Thai-Cambodian border area but will not enter the 4.6 sq km contested area, according to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Mr Abhisit said the earlier meeting of Defence Ministers of Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia had concluded that the surveyors from Indonesia would be despatched and working for two days at the border areas.

In Thailand's border, the premier said, they will inspect six or seven locations in Si Sa Ket province and will strictly not enter the contested area.

When the surveyors return to Indonesia, the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) will meet in Cambodia and if the results conclude with an agreement to withdraw Cambodian troops from the 4.6 sq km area, then observers from Indonesia could come to inspect the areas.

"The Cabinet meeting today discussed the common stance of Thailand on Thai-Cambodian border issue. I am confident that the government's action will not cause Thailand to lose territory. The surveyors from Indonesia must not wear uniforms and the scope of their work must be clearly defined. They will not be called observers as the observers can come after troop withdrawal," he said.

Mr Abhsiit on Monday chaired a meeting at Government House of Cabinet ministers tasked with reviewing Thai-Cambodian problems to discuss and prepare for a meeting of the United Nations UNESCO the World Heritage Committee in Paris in June 2011 and the case Cambodia raised to the International Court of Justice.

Last month Cambodia asked the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about the ancient temple on its disputed border with Thailand following the latest armed clashes between the two neighbouring countries.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled 49 years ago that the 11th-century Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand. However both countries claim ownership of the 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

Mr Abhsiit said that Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti who heads Thai delegation to the World Heritage Committee meeting leaves Bangkok for Paris Monday night for the meeting and to meet his Cambodian counterpart.

He said Thailand will assert its stance that the committee should postpone or otherwise not consider the management plan for the surrounding area of Preah Vihear Temple as proposed by Cambodia to avoid further conflict.

If it was agreed upon, the issue would be withdrawn from the agenda, he said.

The prime minister said he had been reported from the agencies concerned on the preparation for fighting the case in the International Court of Justice but could not disclose the details.

Regarding the possibility that the change of government after the July 3 general elections might impact the World Heritage Committee decision, Mr Abhisit said he believed the panel will make its decision before the Thai poll result.

Thailand stands firm on its decision to bid to host the heritage committee meeting next year, he said.

Mr Abhisit also said he hoped that there would be no more border clashes as the push for the observers was intended to resolve the border problem. (MCOT online news)
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