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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thai PM Appeals for Unity as Floods Threaten Capital

"We are still very concerned because there is still a mass of water that's coming down from the north..."

Thai monk watches flood Waters pushing Into Sai Mai Temple, which is north of Bangkok.

Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is calling for all political factions to unite as soldiers and workers struggle to shore up dikes protecting Bangkok against raging floodwaters.

Hundreds of soldiers and volunteers heaped sandbags into breaches in dikes protecting industrial and housing estates north of the capital Wednesday. A government warning identified several districts that could be inundated because of "complications" in the operation of the dikes.

An army lieutenant, Chainarong Duanram, warned that a sewage treatment pond in one estate was threatened. "Behind us is the sewage pool for the (Bang Kadi) industry estate. The waste water treatment pond will overflow if water comes in from the canal, then it will enter the area of the factories,'' Duanram.

He said if the pond is flooded, the sewage will flow into the factories.

Yingluck toured affected areas by helicopter Wednesday, and afterward told reporters she cannot handle the crisis by herself. She urged opposition parties to set aside politics and cooperate with her government to restore people's morale.

Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who was defeated by Yingluck this year, did not respond directly to her appeal, but he warned that the capital is still at risk from the nation's worst flooding in 50 years.

"We are still very concerned because there is still a mass of water that's coming down from the north, and, you know, as you know it still rains, and also high tide will come back in about couple of weeks time," Vejjajiva stated.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra had declared the crisis largely over on Monday. But he said Wednesday he is still very worried. "This is more difficult to manage. I cannot be optimistic. I have to make all possible preparations and hope for the best," he said.

Despite its problems, the government Wednesday announced a donation of almost $100,000 in flood relief for neighboring Cambodia, which has been equally hard-hit. The floods, have also deluged Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines, killing more than 700 people across Southeast Asia.

Yingluck's government has been working to repair relations with Cambodia following a series of border clashes that killed 28 people this year.

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China's top political advisor visits former Cambodian King

Jia Qinglin (L), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, shakes hands with former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk (C) in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 19, 2011. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

BEIJING, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin visited former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in Beijing on Wednesday and greeted him on his 90th birthday, which falls on Oct. 31.

Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, conveyed birthday greetings from President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders.

Calling Sihanouk a long-time and good friend of the Chinese, Jia praised Sihanouk's outstanding contribution to promoting China-Cambodia friendship, as well as his firm support for China.

"It is a steadfast policy of the Chinese government to consolidate and develop the China-Cambodia traditional friendship," Jia said.

He said he believes that under the care of the Cambodian royal family, with joint efforts of the two countries and peoples, China-Cambodia friendly ties will be full of new vitality.

Sihanouk said he regarded Jia's visit and the greetings of President Hu and other Chinese leaders as the highest honor China has awarded him.

The Cambodian people will never forget the unselfish support from the Chinese people during Cambodia's difficult times, he said.
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Cambodia’s Golden Age of Cinema, Told on Film

Chou Davy, a young French-Cambodian filmmaker. “It’s a very big honor for me because it’s said to be the biggest film festival in all Asia.”

Chou Davy is a young French-Cambodian filmmaker, whose grandfather, Van Chann, made movies in Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s.

Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Chou Davy has now had his first feature-length documentary shown at an international festival in Busan, Korea.

Chou Davy’s parents fled to France in 1973, and the young man returned to Cambodia for the first time in 2009.

He stayed for almost a year, training Cambodian students to produce movies, one of which, “Twin Diamond,” screened at the Lux Cinema in Phnom Penh. He also organized a film exhibition called “The Golden Reawakening,” in the capital, before returning to France for a short time.

The following year, he returned with a film crew. For a month, the team shot a documentary, “The Golden Slumbers,” which was screened at the Busan International Film Festival last week.

“It’s a very big honor for me because it’s said to be the biggest film festival in all Asia,” he told VOA Khmer in a recent interview. “I am so pleased, because it is my very first feature film and have this chance, that this film is selected to this very important festival. Also I’m very proud that Cambodia is represented there because it’s introduced there in Busan as a Cambodian film.”

The film chronicles the “Golden Age” of Cambodian cinema, which began in the 1960s but was extinguished when the Khmer Rouge took power, in 1975. The story of that period is told through the recollections of three film directors—Ly Bun Yim, Yvon Hem and Liv Sreng—and one of the period’s famed actresses, Dy Saveth.

“The film is not only the testimonial interviews of the survivors,” Chou Davy said, “but is also dealing with the present of Cambodian cinema. What has become of the cinemas that have been shut down and now transformed into different places, such as karaoke [clubs] and restaurants?”

As he researched the film, Chou Davy learned how the directors and actress survived the Khmer Rouge and how they moved on after many hardships. The film represents the first time their stories have been told.

“Those stories of their lives and all the regret and everything, some of them didn’t express those feeling for a very long time,” Chou Davy said. “So that was also something very moving for me and very strong.”

More than 400 films were produced during Cambodian cinema’s halcyon days. Only 35 survived. In his search, Chou Davy found that many of the films had survived in the memories of their former producers and stars, and in the memories of those who had watched them. On the street, he would look for Cambodians of a certain age, in their fifties or sixties, and he would ask them if they had watched films before the Khmer Rouge.

“All of them would start to tell me the stories that they really loved, telling me the story from A to Z,” Chou Davy said. “And it was like the film was just shown the day before, even if they hadn’t seen it for 40 years. That was something very strong and very magic, that the cinema brought so much joy to the people that they could never forget.”
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Thai government donates 6 million THB to help flood victims in Cambodia and Vietnam

BANGKOK, 19 October 2011 – The Thai government has contributed three million THB to Cambodia and Vietnam each, to support flood relief efforts in the neighbouring countries.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul recently handed the cash donations together with letters of condolence from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Cambodian ambassador You Aye and Vietnamese ambassador Ngo Duc Thang.

In the letters, the Prime Minister stated that the disaster was a challenge that had never happened before and had caused immense damages. On behalf of the Thai government and people, Ms Yingluck vowed to stand side by side with the two countries in the face of the catastrophe and expressed hope that Asean and other friendly nations would render their hands in solving the situation.

The deluge in Cambodia has killed 247 people and affected 1.2 million others while 2.4 million rai of farmland has been damaged. In Vietnam, 43 people were killed and over 70,000 houses damaged while over 300 square kilometers of rice fields have been under floods. The deluge is regarded as the severest in several decades in Southeast Asia. Read more!