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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cambodia outlaws nukes

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a draft sub-decree barring the production of materials used in the making of chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

Cambodia’s constitution already prohibits the manufacture, use or storage of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons under articles 9 and 54.

The sub-decree was prepared by the Defence Ministry’s Chemical Weapon National Authority as a mechanism to control the production and use of chemicals in line with international treaty obligations.

It follows a draft law introduced in 2009 that similarly barred the use, manufacture or storage of such weapons.

“Our constitution has prohibited the use of chemical, nuclear, biological and radioactive [weapons], but we have prepared this sub-decree as an addition,” said government spokesman Phay Siphan today.

Chum Sambath, an undersecretary of state at the Defence Ministry, said Cambodia has no chemical or nuclear weapons and would never produce them.

“We don’t need to produce chemical weapons because we have no intention to invade any country,” he said.

Minister of Defence Tea Banh could not be reached for comment today.

In 2005 Cambodia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, a global initiative by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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Exiled Cambodian leader speaks to local compatriots

By Steve Huffman
The Dispatch

Sam Rainsy, a member of Cambodia's parliament, brought a message from his native land to Davidson County Saturday night.

Unless you spoke Cambodian, it was impossible to understand what Rainsy was saying, but he drew the rapt attention of about 200 Davidson County residents who are of Cambodian descent. Rainsy spoke at the Lexington Buddhist Temple off Pinelodge Road.

In a brief interview where he spoke English, Rainsy, 63, said he had been forced into exile from Cambodia, but still travels frequently to the country. He remains a member of the country's parliament, Rainsy said.

"It's not the first time," he said of his forced exile. "I'm used to it."

Rainsy was accompanied by his wife, Tioulong Saumura. Like her husband, she's a member of the Cambodian parliament, but living in exile.

Saumura said the couple lives in Paris. She said the last time they returned to Cambodia was about a month ago.

Officially, the country is a constitutional monarchy, but Saumura said its rule is a dictatorship.

"When we go to Cambodia, we don't sleep well at night," Saumura said. She said there have been recent assassination attempts against other Cambodian political leaders. Saumura said she and her husband flew Saturday to Greensboro from New York City where she had been addressing members of the United Nations concerning problems in Cambodia. She is, Saumura said, head of international relations for the Sam Rainsy Party.

The party, Saumura said, was formerly the Khmer Nation Party, but members changed the name due to harassment by the Cambodian government.

The Sam Rainsy Party is Cambodia's second-most popular, having garnered 1.3 million votes in the 2008 national election, the nation's most recent. The Cambodian People's Party is the nation's most popular, garnering 3.5 million votes in that same election. Of the 123 members

of the nation's parliament, 26 are from the Sam Rainsy Party while 90 are from the Cambodian People's Party. Parliament's remaining members come from smaller parties.

Judging by reaction to Rainsy's appearance in Davidson County, he is wildly popular among Cambodians. He was treated with the type reverence Americans typically reserve for professional athletes or rock stars.

Many flocked to have their pictures taken with him Saturday night. The show of respect transcended cultures.

Sam Bour served as an interpreter for Rainsy on occasions Saturday. He said Rainsy spoke about border wars between Cambodia and Vietnam, and warned that Vietnam is trying to swallow Cambodia.

Saumura said the respect the people of Cambodian descent showed her husband Saturday is indicative of that he attracts when he speaks at any number of locations around the world. Native Cambodians, she said, continue to worry about and seek information about their homeland, regardless of their years of separation.

"They have found a new motherland here," Saumura said, motioning to those who waited to speak to her husband. "They still care for their (native) country."

Rainsy's Saturday night address was interrupted often by shouts and applause.

Rainsy was born in Phnom Penh in 1949. His father was a member of the Cambodian government in the 1950s. Rainsy was the nation's minister of finance in the early 1990s. He founded the Khmer Nation Party in 1995 and has served as president of the Sam Rainsy Party since 1998.

Rainsy's political fortunes have in recent years alternated between exile and a desire expressed by many Cambodians that he return and lead the nation through its problems.

According to Rainsy's own website, "Sam Rainsy is the architect and founder of the Sam Rainsy Party. He leads the party through many elections. No doubt, Sam Rainsy is the second-largest party in the country. Sam Rainsy used to enjoy financial support from within the country and abroad. But 13 years in opposition is a long time. Some have even started to predict the next election will be the last for Sam Rainsy, if there is no dramatic change in the current structure."

Rainsy's most recent exile stems from an incident in October 2009 where he led residents at the Cambodia/Vietnam border in a protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory. Rainsy is alleged to have encouraged villagers to uproot border markings that he claimed were illegally placed by Vietnam. Rainsy was charged with racial incitement and destruction of property, charges he said are politically motivated.

Cambodia is best known for the genocide of 1975-1979 that took place under the Khmer Rouge regime. It's estimated that of the nation's 8 million inhabitants, as many as 2.5 million died.
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Cambodia's deadly virus: 85% mortality rate

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Black Death, a global pandemic of catastrophic proportions, has reared its ugly head in the Far East, home to many pandemic viruses. This time it is not a 30 per cent death rate, it is an 85 per cent death rate. It is called the Cambodian Avian Flu virus.

Avian Flu has been around for centuries. So have other pandemics. But an 85 per cent mortality rate?

Let us not invent, let us use the World Health Organization's communications:

Avian influenza - situation in Cambodia

9 February 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Cambodia has announced a new confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

The 5 year old female, from Prek Leap village, Sangkat Prek Leap, Khan Reussey Keo, Phnom Penh, developed symptoms on 29 January, was admitted to a hospital on 3 February and died 12 hours following admission. The presence of H5N1 virus in nasopharyngeal specimens was confirmed by Institut Pasteur, the National Influenza Centre in Cambodia. The case had been in contact with sick poultry during the 7 days before onset of symptoms.

The Ministry of Health has been coordinating the response. Actions have included contact tracing, collecting specimens from suspected cases, and providing oseltamivir prophylaxis to close contacts; active surveillance and joint investigation with animal health authorities; community education; and public communications coordination with the assistance of WHO.

Of the 11 cases of human H5N1 virus infection confirmed since 2005 in Cambodia, 9 have been fatal.

Avian influenza - situation in Cambodia - update

25 February 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Cambodia has announced 2 new confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

A 19-year-old female, from Takong village, Ta Kong commune, Malay district, Banteay Meanchey Province, developed symptoms on early hours of 5 February, was admitted to a private clinic on 9 February, referred to a hospital on 12 February, and died on 12 February without avian influenza being considered as a diagnosis. She had travelled from her home with her husband, her 11-month old son, her mother in law and her sister in law to Rokar Chor village, Bantey Chakrey commune, Prash Sdach district, Prey Veng Province on 3 January. She had multiple exposures to sick and dead poultry between the second half of January and early February. A blood specimen collected at hospital on 12 February was transferred to Institut Pasteur du Cambodge on 22 February and tested positive by (polymerase chain reaction) PCR.

The 11-month-old son developed symptoms on 5 February, was admitted to hospital 15 February and died on 17 February. He also had multiple exposures to sick and dead poultry in the same time frame. The presence of H5N1 virus in nasopharyngeal specimens was confirmed by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, the National Influenza Centre on 20 February.

The Ministry of Health has been coordinating the response with assistance from WHO. To date no other symptomatic contacts have been found.

Of the 13 cases of human H5N1 virus infection confirmed since 2005 in Cambodia, 11 have been fatal.

Konstantin Karpov

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