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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Government to pull out of WHC

We are always wishing that Thailand would withdraw from the World Heritage Convention member.  We think the world without Thailand is better.  UNESCO doesn't need this pest to annoy everybody.

The government says it will withdraw from the World Heritage Convention after a disappointing decision by its secretariat last night to advance Cambodia's management plan for the Preah Vihear temple.

The centre decided yesterday to advance Cambodia's plan to a meeting today of the WHC in Paris, despite Thai lobbying to have the plan delayed until border demarcation work with Cambodia is complete.

Earlier, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressed hope the centre would delay forwarding the plan as an agenda item.

But in a message on his Twitter account late last night, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, who is leading the Thai delegation at the meeting, said the centre had ignored Thailand's pleas.

Withdrawal from the body was now inevitable.

"The World Heritage Centre decided to put the matter on the agenda. I have no choice, we have to withdraw.

"The decision is to prevent the other side from using this issue to claim our territory," he said.

Earlier, the government told the body it would withdraw from the WHC if the plan was not put on hold.

In an earlier Twitter message, Mr Suwit said: "I've issued an ultimatum _ if they reject our proposal, we have to be apart.

"It's useless to be in a society without rules like this. I did my best to protect the country's interests."

Before the decision was announced, former Thai ambassador Asda Jayanama, a key member of the Thai delegation and the chairman of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission, abruptly travelled back to Thailand, despite the negotiations entering a crucial stage.

The WHC proposed its own draft agreement after Thailand and Cambodia disagreed on each other's submitted drafts, despite each having adjusted their submission four times over two days.

The WHC's draft is in line with Thailand's draft in that it proposes to delay a decision on Cambodia's Preah Vihear management plan, but it contains sensitive words like "restoration" and "repair" of the temple, which Thailand worries could be used by Cambodia to apportion blame for damage to Preah Vihear.

Thailand also says restorations or repairs could threaten Thai sovereignty as any such works may require territory in the disputed border area which Thailand claims.

Mr Suwit and Fine Arts Department representatives disapproved of the wording, while the Foreign Ministry was happy with it.

Mr Abhisit said the word "adjustment" would more appropriately describe any temple works, as this would carry no connotations and neither country would be placed at a disadvantage.

He said that while Thailand stood by its ultimatum to leave the WHC if a postponement of the management plan was not agreed, the country would respect the committee's resolution either way.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia should not escalate, whatever the decision. Reports have emerged, however, that amid the rise in tensions, Cambodia has told its troops to reinforce bunkers in the overlapping border area.

Thailand's threat to withdraw from the WHC is based on fears that agreeing to deliberate Cambodia's Preah Vihear management plan would put Thailand at risk of losing territory. The Thai delegation says any consideration of the plan should be put on hold until demarcation of the disputed border is finalised.

Thailand believed if the issue was forwarded to the WHC at this time, the country would cede advantage to Cambodia, which would likely be backed in the dispute by a greater number of the 19 other member nations. Member nations which were expected to support Thailand are mainly from Africa.
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Cambodia set for Khmer Rouge trial

Four top leaders of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime are to go on trial for genocide at Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court in a case described as the world's most complex in decades.

The trial, seen as vital to healing the traumatised nation's deep scars, has been long awaited by survivors of a regime that wiped out nearly a quarter of the population during its reign of terror in the late 1970s.

It follows the conviction of a Khmer Rouge prison chief last year in the court's first ever case.

The elderly defendants - 'Brother Number Two' Nuon Chea, former head of state Khieu Samphan, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary and one-time social affairs minister Ieng Thirith - are to appear at an initial hearing on Monday.

They face a string of charges including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes over the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, overwork, torture or execution during the regime's 1975-79 rule.

The genocide charges relate specifically to the killings of Vietnamese people and ethnic Cham Muslims.

All four deny the accusations against them and the trial, the tribunal's second, will likely take years.

'It's the most important trial that will ever be heard in this court,' international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley told AFP.

'There hasn't been a case as large and complex as this since Nuremberg,' he said, referring to the landmark Nazi trials after World War II.

The initial hearing is scheduled to take place over four days and will focus on expert and witness lists and preliminary legal objections.

Full testimony from the elderly accused, who have been held in detention since their 2007 arrests, is not expected until August at the earliest.

It is the culmination of years of preparation by the war crimes tribunal, which was established in 2006 after nearly a decade of negotiations between Cambodia and the United Nations.

In a trial that lasted just over a year, the court sentenced former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, to 30 years in jail last July for overseeing the deaths of about 15,000 people. The case is now under appeal.

The second trial is more significant and complex because it involves high-ranking regime leaders who reject the charges, as well as many more victims and crime sites all over the country.

'These leaders are not pleading guilty. They will be defiant and they will refuse to cooperate,' said Anne Heindel, a legal adviser to the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge atrocities.

Their health is another key issue. The defendants, aged 79 to 85, suffer from varying ailments and it is unclear if all will live to see a verdict.

Even so many survivors hope the proceedings will finally shed light on a 'very dark period', said Theary Seng, founder of the Cambodian Centre for Justice and Reconciliation who lost her parents under the regime.

'The main question is why? Why did Cambodians kill each other?' she said.

Led by 'Brother Number One' Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the communist regime emptied Cambodia's cities, and abolished money and schools in a bid to create an agrarian utopia before they were ousted from the capital by Vietnamese forces.
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Taiwan Cooperative Bank to open Cambodia branch

Taipei, June 25 (CNA) The Taiwan Cooperative Bank said Saturday it is planning to set up a branch in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh as part of its efforts to expand its presence in Asia.

The bank said as Cambodia, which belongs to the booming economic bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has attracted a large amount of foreign investment, and the Phnom Penh branch will be used as a springboard for the bank to penetrate the country's financial market.

The board of directors of the bank has approved the plan to establish the Cambodia foothold, but no information about an exact timetable fo.

In 2007, the bank opened its first overseas branch in Hong Kong, kicking off its program for expansion in Asia.

In addition to the Hong Kong branch, the bank currently operates branches in Manila, Los Angeles, Seattle and China's Suzhou.

The Suzhou branch, which opened in December 2010, has built business relationships with several major Chinese banks, bank officials said.

The bank said it is expected to open a branch in Sydney by the end of
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Cambodia Hosts ASEAN-China Youth Leaders Symposium

Approximately 65 youth leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China (ASEAN- China) gathered here on Saturday to build closer regional friendship relations and cooperation.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day symposium on Saturday, Cambodian Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Im Sethy said the symposium was both timely and significant in terms of commemorating the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue relations.

"The meeting is a great opportunity for youth leaders from both sides to share their prospective and experience for mutual understanding, regional cooperation, and leadership development," he said. "It is also to exchange their invaluable views on achievements, challenges and future direction of ASEAN-China strategic partnership."

Cambodia has been trying its utmost to support and promote the role of youth in furthering national development, he added.

Meanwhile, the minister expressed his appreciation to China for her generous offer to expand the number of exchange students from ASEAN countries to China up to 100,000 by 2020 and vice versa, providing 10,000 government scholarships to students from the ASEAN countries, and at the same time, inviting 10,000 young teachers, students and scholars from ASEAN countries within the next 10 years.

"I strongly feel confident that China remains to set its priority in education and continue to support and intensify this field," he said.

The symposium has been participated in by ten Chinese youth leaders from the China Foreign Affairs University, Institute of International Relations, Guizhou University and Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

"This gathering is an important opportunity for us to have a face to face dialogue with ASEAN youth leaders on regional affairs and China-ASEAN relations," the head of the Chinese delegation Zhu Liqun, vice-president of the China Foreign Affairs University, said in his opening speech.

China fully supported the idea of encouraging exchange and communication among youths, since young people represent the best asset for respective country's common future and the driving force of the societies.

"Young people can be cultivated as harmonizers, and bridge- builders among countries, and between China and our ASEAN partners, " she said. "There can be no right policies without the active participation of youth representatives in the decision-making process, there can be no regional future without having a strategic role to play by the youth."

The ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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