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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Army dismisses reports of Thai-Cambodian military clash

BANGKOK, Jan 25 – The Royal Thai Army on Wednesday dismissed reports of a renewed clash between Thai and Cambodian soldiers at Ta Kwai Temple, but conceded that one soldier was wounded in a gunshot accident.

Thai army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd stood firm that there was no military clash at the Surin province bordering Cambodia.

Col Sansern said the Second Army Region Command reported that the wounded soldier was Cpl Veerawat Pairoh, accidentally shot in the leg while on patrol along the border as another soldier fell and accidentally shot him with his 9mm pistol. The wounded man was sent to hospital.

The army spokesman said there was no reaction from Cambodian soldiers following the accident.

Second Army Region commander Lt-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn who oversees the border area earlier said that no clash between troops of the two neighbours had occurred.

Ties between Thailand and Cambodia have been strained with sporadic clashes between their troops since the historic Preah Vihear temple was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but a 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) surrounding area remains in dispute as both countries claim ownership of the tract.

The court, last July ordered Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw their troops from the newly-defined demilitarised zone in a disputed portion of their border around the temple while urging both countries to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to agree to allow the regional bloc's observers to enter the disputed zone.

The two neighbours agreed to follow the court’s order and use the General Border Committee mechanism to consider details in implementing it.
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Survivors Sell Books at Prison That Once Held Them

“I saw a lot of depth in his face and his eyes, and from there I wanted to read more about his story.”

Khmer Rouge survivor Chum Mey, 81, right, talks to reporters as another survivor Bou Meng, 70, left, listens at Choeung Ek stupa, former Khmer Rouge killing field in the outskirt of Phnom Penh, file photo.

Bou Meng and Chhum Mey spend less time at the trial of Khmer Rouge leaders these days, and more time at the torture center they both survived.

The two men sit at the Tuol Sleng musuem, the former prison known the Khmer Rouge as S-21, selling the stories of their lives to tourists.

The men say they are not happy to do so, but they have no choice if they want to earn a living.
Bou Meng, who sells copies of his biography, “A Survivor From Khmer Rouge Prison S-21,” by Huy Vannak, said he earns a few dozen dollars a day. On good days, he might earn a few hundred.

“I sell my book for $10, but some people give me $20 without getting back the change,” he said. “I thank them and kiss their hands to show that it’s their hands that help feed me for my daily survival.”

Bou Meng endured severe torture here under the Khmer Rouge, making it hard to return.

“Whenever I enter this place, I get really tense, but I have to come to earn some money, to feed my family, because I’m inadequately supported by the state,” he said.

Author Huy Vannak, who is now a spokesman for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, said he wrote the book “in hopes of making Mr. Bou Meng’s life meaningful, and to help him in various ways, both financially and mentally.”

Canadian tourist Claude Brale bought the book on a recent visit to the museum after talking with Bou Meng.

“I saw a lot of depth in his face and his eyes, and from there I wanted to read more about his story,” Brale said.

In another corner of the museum grounds, survivor Chum Mey sits selling books about the Khmer Rouge and magazines that tell his story of survival. It’s the only way he can support his family, he said.

The tribunal, which has already tried the former head of Tuol Sleng, Kaing Kek Iev, “has never provided anything to the victims,” Chum Mey said. “There are now only two remaining survivors of the S-21 prison after the passing away of Vann Nath, but there has not been any result for us at all.”

“Why does the court not pity the two remaining survivors who are sitting selling books to feed our stomachs?” Bou Meng said. “Why does it pity only the accused so much? What is the court is! I'm so disappointed.”

Huy Vannak said the court does not distinguish between Chum Mey, Bou Meng and the many other victims of the Khmer Rouge. “We don’t think there should be special treatment for any party,” he said.

Visitors here said that by buying books, they hope they help in some way.

“I hope it buys him some comfort in his life and enables him to have a better quality of life,” said Adam Marris, an Australian. “I hope he gets some satisfaction from being able to tell his story and perhaps make the world a better place.”
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CEB flies direct to Siem Reap in Cambodia

By Mary Ann Reyes

MANILA, Philippines - Cebu Pacific (CEB) will become the only airline flying direct from Manila to Siem Reap in Cambodia when it launches its flights on April 19, 2012. It will be a thrice weekly service, utilizing one of Asia’s youngest aircraft fleets.

“Adventurous backpackers usually travel by land from Ho Chi Minh or Bangkok to Siem Reap, just so they can visit Angkor Wat, part of the Angkor World Heritage site. Now, Cebu Pacific can fly them to Siem Reap on its trademark lowest fares,” CEB VP for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said.

CEB will also be the only airline operating flights between the Philippines and Cambodia. According to the UNESCO World Heritage Center, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. The Angkor Archaeological Park contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century, including the famous Temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon.

To launch its newest international route, CEB offers P888 seats between Manila and Siem Reap from Jan. 27 to 29, 2012 or until seats last. These are for travel from April 19 to May 31, 2012.

Flights for CEB’s Manila - Siem Reap – Manila route are scheduled to depart Manila at 7:50 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, arriving in Siem Reap at 9:30 p.m. Return flights will leave Siem Reap at 10:30 p.m., and arrive in Manila at 2:10 a.m.

CEB operates the most extensive network from the Philippines to the ASEAN region, with 12 weekly flights to Bangkok, four weekly flights to Brunei, daily flights to Ho Chi Minh, four weekly flights to Jakarta, three weekly flights to Kota Kinabalu, twice daily flights to Kuala Lumpur, and up to seven daily flights to Singapore. It will commence its direct twice weekly Manila-Hanoi flights on March 17, 2012.

Meanwhile, CEB also holds a seat sale to select destinations from Jan. 27 to 29, 2012 or until seats last, for travel from March 1 to May 31, 2012.

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