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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fortune Brings a Family Together, 36 Years Later

The family celebrates their reunion with friends at a party in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Never in her life did Chhea Vat imagine she would have such an occasion: meeting her husband again after 36 years.

The 73-year-old Cambodian-Canadian had always thought her husband, Peou Nam, was killed when soldiers of the regime took him away, so many years ago.

“I never imagined this meeting before, because I thought the Khmer Rouge never left their captives alive,” Chhea Vat said in a recent interview in Phnom Penh, where her family had found him at long last.

Peou Nam was a soldier in Lon Nol's government, a target for execution by the Khmer Rouge. He has seven children with Chhea Vat.

“It's like I were living with him in the old regime now,” Chhea Vat said. “I’m still thinking that way.”

Chhea Vat and her children escaped Cambodia in 1975 and ended up in Canada in the early 1980s. Only in recent months did she and her children decide to look for her lost husband—after a fortuneteller told them he was still alive.

Peou Phearun is one of the family’s five sons. He had been trying to find his father for several months in Cambodia. Eventually, the two met by chance at a market in Banteay Meanchey province along Cambodia-Thai border.

“Some nights when I wake up, I ask myself if this is true or just a dream,” Peou Phearun said. “Then I know it is true and that I have joined my father again. For the first four or five years in Canada, when I thought of my father, every night I burst into tears.”

Peou Nam was taken twice for execution in a pit by the Khmer Rouge. By chance, he survived. He carried on in Cambodia without his family.

After the regime collapsed, in 1979, he tried to find his missing wife and children, but it was hopeless. They were gone. He thought them dead.

His youngest son, Peou Sambo, was five years old when he last saw his father. All these years later, he said, “I wept when I embraced him. I’ve never known my father.”

Over all these years, Chhea Vat has kept two things: a photo of her husband and a statue of the Buddha, a gift from her beloved bestowed on her before he was taken away by the soldiers.

“He loves this Buddha statue very much, and I have kept it as a souvenir,” she said. “But now that I've found him, I have to return it to him.”
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Thailand Needs Cambodia to Unlock ‘Huge’ Gulf Gas Reserves

Overlapping at sea?  Overlapping at Preah Vihea?  The History have always been showing that Siamese is the thief of stealing everything from Khmer.  Now they want to steal black gold in under sea from Khmer.  The History never showed even one inch of overlapping areas between Khmer-Siamese.

By Daniel Ten Kate and Supunnabul Suwannakij

(Adds estimate of reserves in disputed area in fourth paragraph, Cambodia comment in seventh paragraph.)

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s petrochemical industry may lose billions of dollars if the government fails to strike an agreement with neighboring Cambodia on overlapping claims in the Gulf of Thailand, Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan said.

“Thailand is running out of gas in 15 years,” he said in an interview in Bangkok today. “Petrochemical companies rely on components of wet gas from the Gulf of Thailand. Billions of dollars every year will be gone if we can’t get more supply.”

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s two-month-old government has sought to mend ties with Cambodia after gun battles in disputed border areas killed more than 20 people since 2008. Waters claimed by both countries contain enough gas to secure Thailand’s supply for 50 years, Pichai said.

Development in the 26,000 square kilometers, more than twice the size of Qatar, has stalled for more than three decades. Pichai said the “huge” gas reserves in the disputed zone may at least be equal to the country’s current reserves, which BP Plc estimates at 11 trillion cubic feet, about a 10th of China’s gas reserves.

It will take at least 10 years to pump gas out of the ground after a political agreement is reached, a process that is now under way, said Pichai, 49.

“At this moment it looks very positive,” he said. “We want to get it done and Cambodia wants to get it done. We just need to make sure internal politics won’t be an obstacle.”

‘Amicably Resolve’

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is also chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, said Oct. 12 that negotiations would begin when both governments are ready.

“Cambodia is determined to amicably resolve the dispute,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “A resolution would enable the economic benefits that might arise from oil and gas production in the area to be fairly allocated between the two countries.”

In 2008, the last time ex-Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra’s allies were in power, protesters accused the government of ceding sovereignty to Cambodia. Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, now opposition leader, threatened to revoke an agreement to demarcate the waters in 2009 after Cambodia named Thaksin as an adviser.

Thailand’s petrochemical industry, based on the gulf coast about 200 kilometers from Bangkok, has attracted investment from Dow Chemical Co., Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. and Siam Cement Pcl. Thailand accounted for almost half of Southeast Asia’s production of polyolefins, polymers used in making plastic parts in appliances and automobiles.

Renegotiate Concessions

Thailand will seek to renegotiate concessions in the overlapping area awarded in the 1970s to companies such as Chevron Corp. and Idemitsu Kosan Co. to ensure that state-run PTT Pcl has a stake, Pichai said. In 1997, Cambodia awarded concessions to BHP Billiton Ltd., ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

“As a partner of both Thailand and Cambodia, we encourage the two countries to resolve their differences so the OCA can be developed for the benefit of both countries,” Gareth Johnstone, a Singapore-based spokesman for Chevron, said today in an e-mail response to questions, referring to the disputed area.

Natural gas fuels 72 percent of power generation in Thailand, up from 62 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 1990, according to Energy Ministry statistics. Gas imports from Myanmar, which started in 2000, accounted for 20 percent of Thailand’s consumption last year, statistics show.

Electricity Prices

Gas piped from the Gulf of Thailand costs about $6 per million British thermal units, compared with $18 for liquefied natural gas, Pichai said. Thailand would be forced to import more LNG if it can’t develop the disputed area, he said.

“People who don’t like Cambodia much may start to like Cambodia more if they know that they’ll have to pay double for electricity,” Pichai said.

Pichai plans a trip to Myanmar later this month in an attempt to secure more gas in the face of “aggressive” competition from China. That gas is used primarily for power plants, he said.

“The gas in the overlapping claims area may be more vital because it has the petrochemical component that may create more value added,” Pichai said. “Just bring it up and the value will be there.”

--Editors: Tony Jordan, Patrick Harrington

To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at; Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at -0- Oct/12/2011 05:59 GMT
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