Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year 2011 !!!!


New year comments greetings, happy new year animated scraps

Dear Value Readers !!

CAAI News Media would like to wishing you all a Happy New Year and allow me to congratulate you on the arrival of the New Year and to extend to you all my best wishes for your perfect health and lasting prosperity.

With very best wishes for your happiness in the New Year.

Warm Regards,

CAAI News Media

Khmer Court Jailed 7 Thais For Entering Cambodia Illegally

Khmer Surin Learn Khmer Language in The Camp






Photos by Radio Free Asia

Thais held in Cambodian jail


via CAAI

Hun Sen turns deaf ear to Abhisit's demands
Published: 31/12/2010
Newspaper section: News

Phnom Penh is refusing to release seven Thais being held for trespassing on Cambodian territory despite Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva demanding they be granted their freedom.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday afternoon made an urgent visit to Phnom Penh for talks with his counterpart, Hor Namhong, on securing the release of the seven who include a government MP.

But Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided yesterday to press ahead with charges against the Thais.

The defendants, including Democrat Party MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, appeared at a closed-door hearing at the court, a day after being detained near the border dividing Thailand and Cambodia.

"The court has charged them with illegally crossing the border ... and entering a military area with ill will," deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun said.

If convicted on the two counts, the seven could face up to 18 months in jail. It was unclear when the next hearing in the case would be held.

A sombre Panich and the rest of his entourage were taken from the court by police officers.

Interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said they were taken to Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of the capital.

The incident has rekindled diplomatic tensions between the neighbouring countries which centre on a long-standing border dispute.

Mr Abhisit said yesterday morning he had demanded the immediate release of the seven Thais and said they must not be taken to court in Cambodia as this could hurt the ties between the two countries after they were beginning to show signs of improvement.

"No matter where they were arrested, we think the seven persons should be released immediately," Mr Abhisit said.

"The two governments had held talks and agreed that if such incidents did occur, no arrests would be made and nobody would be taken to court," the prime minister said.

"Otherwise, this would only further complicate the border problems."

Hor Namhong told reporters after his meeting with Mr Kasit that he had said there would be "no release" of the Thais just yet.

"Let the court continue with the legal procedure as normal ... the government cannot do anything," he said.

The seven Thais were arrested about 10am on Wednesday near Ban Nong Jarn in Sa Kaeo's Khok Sung district while inspecting a disputed border area.

Arrested with Mr Panich were People's Alliance for Democracy co-leader Veera Somkwamkid, PAD activist Samdin Lertbutr, Tainae Mungmajon and three others identified only as Muay, Uan and Sab.

The PAD is a pressure group which led protests against Cambodia over the ownership of the Preah Vihear temple on the disputed border.

Assistant to the foreign minister Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday Thailand asked Cambodia to consider the case prudently as the seven Thais had no intention of encroaching on Cambodian territory.

Mr Chavanond said the two foreign ministers had examined evidence as well as the area where the Thais were arrested.

It was found the seven Thais had strayed about 1,200 metres into Cambodian territory. It was clearly marked as a Cambodian area, he said

"Foreign Minister Kasit made a visit to the seven Thais in prison," said Mr Chavanond, who accompanied Mr Kasit on the visit to Phnom Penh.

More than 100 Thais gathered yesterday at Thao Suranari Monument in Nakhon Ratchasima to protest against Cambodia's detention of the seven Thais.

They burned an effigy of Hun Sen and demanded Cambodia release the Thais immediately.

Mr Abhisit said he had instructed Mr Panich to inspect the disputed area in Ban Nong Jarn after local people had complained of Cambodian troops encroaching on their farmland.

An army source said some among the military top brass were unhappy with the incident.

Senior officers questioned whether the seven had intentionally strayed into Cambodian territory.

They also said the seven should have asked border police or soldiers to accompany them while inspecting the disputed area.

Cambodia Charges 7 Thai Nationalists with Illegal Entry

VOA News
30 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: REUTERS
Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, who also serves as Foreign Minister, speaks during a news conference in Phnom Penh (FILE).

A Cambodian court has charged seven Thai nationalists, including a ruling party lawmaker, with illegally entering Cambodia while they inspected a disputed border area.

Cambodian authorities detained the group Wednesday on the border of northwestern Cambodia and southeastern Thailand and brought them to Phnom Penh. A court in the capital, Phnom Penh, charged them Thursday with illegal entry and encroaching on a Cambodian military zone. If convicted on both counts, they face up to 18 months in prison.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called for the immediate release of the seven Thais, who include a lawmaker of his Democrat Party, Panich Vikitsreth. Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya traveled to Phnom Penh Thursday and met with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong to try to secure their freedom.

But Hor Namhong later said the Thai nationalists will remain in custody until Cambodia's legal procedures run their course.

Mr. Abhisit said Thursday that if Cambodia wants friendly relations with Thailand, it must resolve bilateral disputes through negotiations. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that he does not expect the arrests to affect that relationship.

Panich traveled to the border region with six members of the pro-military and pro-monarchy Yellow Shirt movement, saying they were investigating complaints from Thai farmers about intrusions by Cambodian soldiers. He insisted that he and his companions were on Thai territory when they were detained.

But Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thursday it appears the group had gone just inside Cambodian territory.

Much of the Thai-Cambodian border is poorly defined, in part, because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Seven Thais, Including MP, Charged for Illegal Entry

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 30 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Thai activists Veera Somkwamkid, second left, a core leader of Yellow Shirts and Panich Vikitsreth, a member of Parliment of the ruling Democrat party, second right, are escorted by Cambodian court security personnel at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, on Thursday.

"We both agreed that this problem will not affect other things in the relationship of our two countries.”

A Thai parliamentarian and six supporters were charged with illegal entry and ill-intent in Phnom Penh court on Thursday, after they were arrested Wednesday near the northern border.

Cambodian authorities claim the lawmaker, Panich Vikitsreth, and six supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy, entered Cambodia illegally and were caught in a military area in Banteay Meanchey province.

According to Thai media reports, the group had been traveling to investigate claims of Cambodian encroachment on Thai land.

Phnom Penh prosecutor Sok Roeun said he charged all seven for illegal entry for trespassing in Chey Chumnas village, O'Chov district. The charges carry a sentence of three to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The seven suspects—five men and two women—are being held in Prey Sar prison.

Thai Foreign Minsiter Kasit Pirumya flew in to meet with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, on Thursday.

Hor Namhong told reporters after that meeting that the suspects had “deeply entered Cambodia, some 500 meters from the border.”

Hor Namhong said he had told Kasit the case was in the hands of the court and there would be no political release.

“We will solve this problem step by step,” he said. “We both agreed that this problem will not affect other things in the relationship of our two countries.”

The two neighbors have only just patched up rocky diplomatic relations and eased tensions along a disputed border area in Preah Vihear province.

Addressing reporters, Kasit said armed conflict between the two “cannot happen, because we have a clear policy.”

“At this time, we respect Cambodia's judicial process,” he said.

Center Posts Reminder of Slain Journalists on Website

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 30 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
In 2010, Licadho recorded 16 reporters were arrested and charged with crimes after they investigated forest crimes.

“If we continue this culture, we cannot build a democratic society.”

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights has posted the names of 10 journalists who were killed over the last 16 years, “to remind the public and ministries concerned not to forget them.”

The inability for police to solve the murders shows “the government has no will or is in capable,” said Ou Virak, head of the center.

The center has posted the names and the circumstances surrounding the murders on its website.

Reporters killed include those who supported the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, as well as royalist Funcinpec and the pro-government newspaper Koh Santepheap, between 1994 and 2008.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the files were “not closed” on those cases, and he called on help from the public to find the killers.

However, Ham Sunrith, deputy director of the rights group Licadho, said he had not seen any progress on the investigations.

“If we continue this culture, we cannot build a democratic society,” said Yim Sovann, an SRP lawmaker.

The unsolved murders of journalists remains a black spot for the government, which in recent months has tried to show an anti-corruption stance, with the passage of a new law and the recent arrest of a Pursat province court prosecutor.

But critics warn the courts too have been used to intimidate journalists.

Licadho recorded 16 reporters were arrested and charged with crimes in 2010 after they investigated forest crimes.

All of which adds up to less information, Ou Virak said.

“The impunity scares professional reporters, and impact access to information,” he said.

Analysts See Room for Corruption Law in Elections

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 30 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Cambodia goes to the polls every five years, the next national elections will take place in 2013.

"Voters should be allowed to see where election money, gifts and other largesse come from and to learn how much each party is spending on the election."

Election analysts say Cambodia's new anti-corruption law should be incorporated into the polls, to prevent political parties or campaigners from buying votes or swaying the electorate with gifts.

Currently, there is not a clear policy, so some officials used “extravagant funds” during campaigns, said Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections, a monitoring group.

The anti-corruption law, passed earlier this year, could be effective in curbing this and for showing where funds come from, he said.

Koul Panha, head of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, agreed. Voters should be allowed to see where election money, gifts and other largesse come from and to learn how much each party is spending on the election.

“We can learn how money is having an influence in the electoral process and can see the magnitude of expenses in the electoral process,” he said.

Election law does outline punishments for candidates who commit wrongdoing, but the National Election Committee has been accused weak enforcement.

The election law could be made stronger with provisions from the anti-corruption law, the election monitors said.

For now, it remains unclear how the anti-corruption law will be applied to upcoming elections in 2012 and 2013.

“We have not yet studied this,” said Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC. Irregularities can be punished under election laws, he said, but there are not specific stipulations about corruption.

But the new anti-corruption law has some political activists worried. A ruling Cambodian People's Party official who spoke on condition of anonymity said some party supporters worry they will be punished under the new law.

Kem Sokha, president of the minority opposition Human Rights Party, said any law would likely only be yielded against the opposition and not the ruling party. However, he said, more people are likely to realize in the upcoming elections that gifts are not a substitute for governance, especially with issues like land grabbing and forced evictions as political issues.

“Maybe there will be change more than before,” he said.

UNIDO, Seoul tackle Mekong pollution

via CAAI

VIENNA, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The government of South Korea agreed to fund the U.N. Industrial Development Organization to help Cambodia address pollution problems, the U.N. said.

The United Nations announced that the Korean International Cooperation Agency agreed to set up a $900,000 trust fund to help assess environmentally vulnerable portions of the Mekong River through Cambodia.

The project, UNIDO said in a statement, aims to find low-cost technical solutions that can improve the water quality in the Mekong River. Lessons learned from the monitoring project in Cambodia will help concerned agencies replicate the project in neighboring countries, the U.N. agency said.

"The project will help improve the water quality of the Mekong River and reduce the negative impacts from industrial activities through the introduction of UNIDO's integrated approach for the transfer of environmentally sound technology," it added.

The UNIDO agreement with the South Korean agency, signed in Vienna, is the first of its kind. The two-year UNIDO project will be carried out jointly with the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia.

Cambodia's HIV/AIDS Fight At Critical Crossroads In Funding, Prevention: New Report

via CAAI

Main Category: HIV / AIDS
Also Included In: Preventive Medicine; Aid / Disasters
Article Date: 30 Dec 2010

Despite Cambodia's remarkable history in driving down HIV infections, a report released on the future of AIDS in the country argues that future success is not guaranteed and the government needs to focus increasingly on wise prevention tactics and assume more of the financing of its AIDS program.

The report, called The Long-Run Costs and Financing of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, written by Cambodian experts working closely with staff of the Results for Development Institute (R4D), based in Washington, D.C., finds that Cambodia, in a best-case scenario, could reduce the infections to 1,000 people a year in 2031 - a half-century after AIDS was first identified. That is down from an estimated 2,100 infections last year and from the peak of 15,000 a decade ago.

But the report's authors also say that if Cambodia's AIDS efforts stall and current coverage of key services declines, especially in carefully targeted prevention, the number of infections could climb to 3,800 a year in 2031 - nearly a four-fold increase over the best-case scenario. The report concludes that the government's successful track record will only be maintained if it scales up prevention services for the most at-risk populations, such as sex workers, men having sex with men, and injecting drug users.

"We welcome this in-depth and forward-looking report for our country," said Cambodia's Minister of Health H.E. Dr. Mam Bunheng. "Cambodia has a long history of fighting HIV/AIDS head-on, with effective prevention strategies, and we believe that this report will help us sharpen our strategies. Our goal is to further prevent the number of HIV infections in our country and we will continue on that path."

In Cambodia, HIV/AIDS was first identified in 1991. Only a few years later, experts warned that the epidemic had taken off rapidly and that Cambodia risked becoming the Asian country with the worst AIDS problem. In response, the country attacked the epidemic vigorously, earning international recognition for its success. Between 1998 and last year, Cambodia dramatically reduced new infections and made anti-retroviral treatment widely available. By 2009, an estimated 93 percent of those eligible for AIDS drugs were receiving them.

Still, Cambodia's AIDS epidemic, fueled largely by unprotected heterosexual sex between men and female sex workers, remains volatile and could spread rapidly without targeted prevention efforts, the new report says.

The cost of the national AIDS program also has grown from US$21 million in 2003 to US$51.8 million in 2008, raising some concerns among government and donor officials about their ability to sustain a growing level of spending to fight the epidemic over the years to come. Donors now fund 90 percent of Cambodia's AIDS program.

The report is the third in a series of studies done by the financing group of aids2031, an international initiative that has brought together some of the world's experts on AIDS. The group also issued a report on the global trends in financing the AIDS fight, which was summarized in a paper published earlier this year in The Lancet, and a report on South Africa's epidemic, which was released in mid-November.

Robert Hecht, managing director of R4D and overall coordinator of the series of reports, said that the Cambodian study has particular significance for countries in Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe that are fighting AIDS epidemics largely confined to specific at-risk groups.

"Cambodia is an important example of a country that was facing a possible catastrophe a decade ago and has averted that thanks to bold actions," Hecht said. "But there's no room for complacency. This is the moment for Cambodia to strike a bargain with its outside funders such as the Global Fund, Australia, and the U.S. If these funders maintain a modest level of financial support to help preserve Cambodia's gains to date, the government can gradually step in to assume fuller and more sustainable funding of its AIDS program."

H.E. Dr. Mean Chhi Vun, Director of the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD, said that the report comes at an important time for the Cambodian government as it begins to assume more of the cost of AIDS programs from donors. "This report will play a key role in our discussions on how to move forward," Dr. Vun said. "We are committed to finding the most cost-efficient solutions as well as the most effective programs. We will draw upon our own experiences over the last decade and more, but we will also use these important findings to help guide us."

The report examines the costs in fighting Cambodia's epidemic under various strategies, ranging from US$ 1.4 billion during 2009 to 2031 under the current plan, to US$2.3 billion over the 22-year period in a dramatically stepped-up prevention plan - a differential of $900 million, or nearly 40 percent. The report's authors recommend a third course that stops nearly as many new infections as the most expensive approach, but costs much less because it emphasizes spending selectively on the highest impact prevention services, such as promoting consistent condom use in high risk settings.

"Cambodia has many choices in front of it," said Dr. Vonthanak Saphonn, the lead Cambodian author of the report and Deputy Director of the National Institute of Public Health. "Our recommendation is that Cambodia needs to focus investments on HIV/AIDS in those areas that are most cost-effective. This may mean that the country has to evaluate each intervention and focus on those that are contributing the most to the national program in a cost-effective manner."

Richard Skolnik, a professor of public health at George Washington University and the lead technical adviser to R4D on the project, said he believes the country's past history of success in fighting AIDS bodes well for the future. But he said difficult financial decisions will have to be made now.

"We have every reason to believe Cambodia can continue its effective fight against the epidemic," Skolnik said. "But Cambodia is very dependent on its external partners on financing, and if they don't put enough government money into the program and focus on the wisest investments, even this outstanding program could be threatened."

Tony Lisle, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Cambodia, welcomed the report and said he hoped it would make a strong contribution to the country's ongoing fight against AIDS. "I hope this provides an opportunity for Cambodian officials to intensify their already strong efforts against AIDS with the kind of vigor it has shown in the past," Lisle said. "Cambodia has been a shining example around the world when it comes to lowering HIV infections, and I believe it can now make further adjustments that will allow it to remain a leader."

Source:
Denise Young
Burness Communications

Cambodia: Christmas of solidarity, just as the Gospel teaches

http://www.asianews.it/

via CAAI

by Luca Bolelli
12/30/2010

Thi wanted to go home for Christmas, but neither she nor her family could afford the cost of the trip. So her friend Srey On decided to gift her the ticket, despite the fact her salary is barely enough to feed her and her family. The Gospel in the midst of daily poverty, a story told by a PIME missionary.

Kdol Leu (AsiaNews) - Fr Luca Bolelli, 35, from Bologna, Italy, is a PIME missionary who has been in Cambodia for 3 years. At Christmas, he wrote to AsiaNews.

I returned to Cambodia after passing the summer in Italy, intense days where I was able to see so many of you, unfortunately it was not possible to see many others, and for this I am sincerely sorry. I resumed my life Kdol Leu, on the banks of the Mekong River, along with Father Ivan and the people of these lands.

The last few weeks have seen us busy preparing for Christmas. There is a tradition in Leu Kdol of staging the Nativity in front of the church. Villagers from surrounding villages come in large numbers, curious to see the play, though not Christians. Each year the young people prepare some plays and traditional dances for the occasion. It is truly a special feast. Those from our village who left to look for work or study far away try to be present, although 25 December is not a public holiday in Cambodia.

Thi is also among them. Thi is a young Vietnamese girl who has worked for two years here with us at church, helping in household chores and preparing the "bobo" rice for the nursery school children. Then last summer she crowned a dream, when it became possible for her to resume her studies that she had to leave at first grade. Being the eldest of seven children from a very poor family, even as a child, she had to think of them first of all. Now that their situation is a bit 'more stable, here brothers and sisters have all grown, and her parents have allowed her to study for two years with the Salesian Sisters in Battambang, a large city practically on the other side of Cambodia.

A few days before Christmas, Thi called me all happy, "Father, I will be home for Christmas”. I called her mother and together we phoned Thi, but then came the disappointment. Her parents did not have the money to pay for her ticket home from Battambang, plus the rice season has just begun and there are very few riel to spare. "Patience," said Thi "it doesn’t matter." That same evening at dinner and I spoke of what happened to Srey On and Darong [pictured], who know Thi well. Darong also has a very difficult family situation, we helping him as much as possible and it is deeply moving to see the effort he puts into study, especially English, with which he struggles greatly. Srey On took Thi’s job here at the mission. They are very similar: she could not study and so reads and writes with difficulty, but she is a girl of immense sensitivity and her concern for others is truly astonishing. A few weeks ago we decided to increase her salary because she works twice as much as had been originally established, and at home her mother is very ill (her father abandoned them when the children were still small).

Srey On asked me: "How much is a ticket from Battambang?". "About 30 thousand riel (ie, little more than 6 euro)" I replied. She thinks for a moment and then says, "I’ll give Thi money to come home for Christmas." I was amazed. 30 thousand riel is a lot of money, especially here in the countryside. Srey On never spends more than 5 thousand a day on food for herself and her mother, more than half of the raise we had given her. She could have spent it in a thousand other ways, or put it away for a rainy day, but ...

So I called Thi to give her the good news, she thanks us but does not want to come, having thought about it, she feels its too much money. So I pass her to Srey On, they speak together for a few minutes, and in the end Thi tells me: "Father, I’ll come and see you at Christmas." I'm overjoyed, her brothers and sisters can’t wait to see her, none of us can. I remember the act of Srey On, small and insignificant like the widow in the Gospel story, who offers two small coins for the Temple and no one notices except Jesus: "She put more than all the others because she gave everything she has to live on" . She could have kept them, she is poor, she had every right. Instead, she choose to give her money anyway.

Finally Christmas Eve arrived, the young people were ready to stage the Nativity and dances prepared in recent months. A lot of people came this year. Every so often I would scan the crowd to see if Thi had already arrived. But it was already dark, the ferry must have stopped service by now. Where was Thi? Her mother asks me too. I guessed that the bus from Battambang arrived late and she was forced to find shelter for the night, perhaps in Kompong Cham, the capital of our province. Not even Ciuri, one of her sisters who studies with the Salesians in Phnom Penh, is unable to return in time for the celebration. A bad infection in her hand meant she had to remain in Kompong Cham, a "short walk" from home. The evening of the 24, she had to undergo a small emergency operation.

Christmas morning and still no news yet of Thi, strange because transport from Kompong Cham had already been running for some time. After Mass I phone for news of her sister, and who does she pass me? Only Thi! She met Ciuri Christmas Eve in Kompong Cham and decided to stay to keep her company. What a girl Thi, I think to myself, you have not changed. You gave up something that you deeply desired for your sister.

I alert her father and mother who immediately search for a bike to borrow to visit their daughters. Just before sunset the father returns with Thi, her mother has decided to relieve her to take over. The embrace between Thi and Srey On made me think of what I imagine Mary and Elizabeth felt when they were pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist.

How to plan a trip to travel Cambodia

via CAAI

2010-12-30

As the increasing international visitors to Cambodia arrive by air at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap in recent years. ActiveTravel Asia ( http://www.activetravel.asia/ ) show some travel tips & information for travelers who intend to plan their trips in Cambodia and Indochina

Most international visitors to Cambodia (www.activetravelcambodia.com) arrive by air at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. An increasing number of airlines are operating into Cambodia in response to the Cambodian governments open skies policy. The list of international airlines serving Cambodia includes; Bangkok Airways, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, EVA Air, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, Mekong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Siem Reap Airways International, Silk Air, Royal Phnom Penh Airways, Thai Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.

For transport to the city centre when arriving at Phnom Penh, you will find taxis outside the arrival hall. The taxi fare from the airport to the city is US$7 and the trip will take about 15 minutes, depending on traffic.

In Siem Reap the cost of a taxi into the town area from the airport is US$5. Many of the larger hotels will offer free transport so let your hotel know your flight arrival details in advance.

Overland travel to Cambodia is possible through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam via border crossings.

Travelling around Cambodia (http://www.activetravelcambodia.com/ )

Air travel, bus, train, boat and taxi are all modes of transport available to tourists in Cambodia. Your selection is best determined by how far you wish to travel, the time you have available, the amount you want to spend and, sometimes, by the weather as during the wet season travel by road especially in the provinces can be very slow.

For getting around the major centres such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, the most common form of public transport is the moto (motorbike taxi). The motos are fast, cheap (negotiate the price before your trip) and readily available however if you are unfamiliar with sitting as a passenger on a motorbike in heavy traffic, such as in Phnom Penh, then you may prefer an alternative mode.

The quaint cyclo is also common in the cities and is a safer more pleasant way of getting around compared to the moto, although obviously slower! Again, negotiate the price first.

For comfort and safety your best option may be to hire a car, with a driver, and this will cost you around US$20-$25 per day. Your hotel/guesthouse will usually be able to arrange a car for you.

Where to stay

There are accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets in Cambodia, from 5-star luxury hotels to inexpensive and friendly guesthouses. Please click on our Accommodation link to see an extensive list.

Currency / Banks / Credit Cards

The official currency of Cambodia is the Riel however US dollars are widely accepted; in fact many businesses set their prices in US dollars. It is however wise to carry some riel around with you for small purchases. The current exchange rate for the riel to the US$ is around 4000 riel = US$1.

The acceptance of credit cards is increasing in Cambodia and you can get cash advances against your credit card at some major commercial banks. There are however no ATMs that will provide access to foreign bank accounts.

Climate

Cambodia (http://www.activetravelcambodia.com/) has a tropical climate that is warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops and this year round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for the tourism industry. Visitors do need not fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.

Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However those planning to travel extensively by road should avoid the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable.

The climate can generally be described as tropical. As the country is affected by monsoon, it is hot and humid with an overage temperature around 27.C (80.F) but in the dry season it is cool and very much like a European summer.

There are two distinct seasons: the Rainy Season and the Dry Season. However, the Dry Season is divided into two sub-seasons, cool and hot and these seasons are:

The Rainy season:
From June till October 27-35.C (80-95.f)

The Dry season (cool):
From November till February 17-27.C (80-95.F)

The Dry season (Hot) :
From March till May 29-38.C (84-100.F)

Cambodia is one of the few countries that visitors can enjoy all the year round.

No release of seven Thais illegally entering Cambodian territory: Cambodia

via CAAI

December 30, 2010

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Thursday that there is no any release of the seven Thai nationals arrested on Wednesday in Banteay Meanchey and they were already sent into prison.

"There is no any release of them. Let the judicial procedure to proceed the case, now the case is in hand of the court, the government cannot do anything," said Hor Namhong after meeting with his visiting Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya on Thursday afternoon. "They have intention to enter Cambodian territory and Mr. Kasit has agreed with Cambodia that they entered deeply into Cambodian territory," said Hor Namhong.

"I traveled to Cambodia in order to listen to the fact on the arrest of the seven Thai nationals," Kasit said after meeting with Hor Namhong. "Thai government respects the justice procedure of Cambodia."

He said that he was unaware that the Thais entered too deeply into Cambodian territory.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, arrived Cambodia Thursday afternoon, sought to the release of the seven Thai nationals through negotiation.

Meanwhile, Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor of Phnom Penh Municipal Court told Xinhua on Thursday that after 7-hour inquest on the arrested Thais, the court decided to charge them two cases: one is the illegal entry into Cambodian territory according to the article 29 of the Cambodia's immigration law and the other is on the bandit deed to enter military base based on the article 473 of the penal code.

He said that for the first case, they could face between 3 and 6 months in prison, and the second case from 6 to 12 months in prison and fine from 1 million to 2 million Cambodian riels (about 250 U.S. dollars to 500 U.S. dollars).

The seven Thai nationals had been sent to the Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison after the inquest.

They had been arrested on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. by Cambodian border protection army at the border pole No. 46 in Chhokchey village, Obiychhorn commune, Ochrov district, Banteay Meanchey province. The location is opposite to Norngchan village of Thailand's eastern Sa Kaeo Province.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated. And the two sides have had border conflict just one week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple was registered as World Heritage Site in July 2008.

Since the conflict started, military standoff has been on and off along the two countries' border and several military clashes have already happened with recorded small causalities from both sides.

However, the border issue has been eased as the top leaders of Cambodia and Thailand have held four meetings since September.

Source: Xinhua

Thai lawmaker and 6 others face prison in Cambodia for illegal border crossing

via CAAI

By: The Associated Press
Posted: 30/12/2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A Cambodian court charged seven Thais, including a member of Parliament, on Thursday with illegally crossing the border in the latest flare-up of an often-strained relationship between the neighbours.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who was dispatched to the Cambodian capital to negotiate the group's release, urged Cambodian authorities to speed the legal proceedings.

"We respect the judiciary of Cambodia," Kasit said through a translator. The ministry has said the group was inspecting the border area. "We have asked the government to complete the case as soon as possible."

The arrests occurred Wednesday in a disputed area of the frontier in Cambodia's northwestern Banteay Meanchey province. Among those arrested was lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat party, a former aide to Kasit at the Foreign Ministry.

The Phnom Penn Municipal Court charged them with illegal entry and illegally entering a military base along the border, crimes that carry penalties of up to six months and one year, respectively, said deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun.

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the group crossed from Thailand's eastern Sa Kaew province and walked some 500 yards (meters) into Cambodian territory.

"They will not be released until the normal court procedure is completed," he said after meeting with Kasit.

Relations have been contentious for years, with the main focus on a border dispute near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple that has led to a series of small but sometimes deadly skirmishes.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Cambodian court questions Thai lawmaker on trespass case









Photos by DAP (Deum Ampil Newspaper)

Hor Namhong-Kasit´s Meetings Produces No Release






via CAAI

Thursday, 30 December 2010 10:42 DAP-NEWS/SOY SOPHEA-SORN SOPHEAK

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Dec 30, 2010- An one-hour meeting between Cambodian and Thai Foreign Ministers on Thursday produced any releases of the arrested Thai.

Cambodian FM Hor Namhong told reporters after the meeting that everything was now in the authority of Cambodia´s court so that the government had to obey the judiciary system, adding that ´We cannot interfere the authority of the court.”

Kasit who accompanied by his Thai Ambassador to Cambodia told reporters that he understood the circumstance of the arrests. “We come here to find the facts of the seven Thai arrested, and we come here to brief our facts [to Cambodian side],” he said. “Now we respect the justice movement of Cambodia but we encourage the Cambodian government to push it faster.”

However, Cambodian FM added that he believed that arrests would cause any damages to the newly-restored bilateral relation.

According a Cambodian court official told DAP News Cambodia that the arrested Thai were sent to jail after being accused of illegal trespassing.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

PM: Trial for Illegally Entering Cambodia by 7 Thais Does Not Affect Cambodia and Thailand Diplomatic Relations

Phnom Penh, December 30, 2010 AKP -- “I think that the arrest of seven Thai nationals does not affect Cambodia and Thailand diplomatic relations and cause a new diplomatic tension between the two countries,” said Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of an annual meeting held on Dec. 29 by the Ministry of Rural Development, Samdech Techo Hun Sen made his remarks, referring to seven Thais illegally entering Cambodian territory, two of whom are Thai lawmakers.

“I think that Thai Prime Minister H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva will understand the Cambodian judicial system, which nobody could violate,” he said.

“After being sent from Banteay Meanchey province to Phnom Penh, the Thai nationals will be detained in the immigration police for being charged in Phnom Penh court and then will be jailed in Prey Sar prison,” he said, adding that Thai lawmakers have immunity only in Thai territory, but when they enter Cambodian territory to measure so-called Thai land in Cambodia’s land, it’s illegal, so Cambodia has the right to arrest.

The Cambodian premier also blamed Thailand Patriot Network, saying, “If it is on your land, you can do whatever you want, but it is on Cambodian land, Cambodia has to do it based on the law.” --AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by THOU Peou

-------------------

AKP/02

PM Orders to Uproot Drug Traffickers

Phnom Penh, December 30, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has ordered to uproot drug traffickers in the country.

“If we arrested one, there is still one more, so let’s grab it by the roots,” Premier Techo Hun Sen made the remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the second flyover in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Earlier this week, Cambodian authorities have arrested in Phnom Penh seven suspects involving in drug trafficking and confiscated 74 boxes containing 180 cans of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of methamphetamine, drug ingredients or nearly 7 millions of drug pills. --AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

-----------------

AKP/03

Cambodia To Host 32nd AIPA in September 2011

Phnom Penh, December 30, 2010 AKP -- The Kingdom of Cambodia has been preparing to host the 32nd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) scheduled to take place from Sept. 18 to 24, 2011.

H.E. Cheam Yeap, chairman of the Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Auditing of the National Assembly, told a meeting here yesterday.

The opening ceremony will be held at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh under the presidency of National Assembly Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, he said, adding that NA delegates from the ten ASEAN member countries and representatives from eleven observer countries are expected to join the event.

According to a draft document of the AIPA organizing committee, the main theme for the 32nd AIPA is the Roles of AIPA in building ASEAN community towards prosperity in the region. --AKP

Article in Khmer by PAL Song
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul

-------------------

AKP/04

Vung Tau Province Wishes to Cooperate with Cambodia in Tourism

Phnom Penh, December 30, 2010 AKP -- The Vietnamese province of Vung Tau is willing to cooperate with Cambodia in the field of tourism, visiting Vice Chairman of Ba Ria-Vung Tau People’s Committee Mr. Ho Van Nien told Cambodian Secretary of State for the Ministry of Tourism H.E. Ko Somsaroeut during their meeting here on Dec. 28.

Vung Tau is a province with tourism potential, but it has paid more attention on investment in oil and agriculture than in tourism, said Mr. Ho Van Nien, who led a 20-member delegation to visit Cambodia.

More and more foreign tourists have visited Cambodia in the recent years, that is why Vung Tau would like to exchange tourists with the Cambodian side, he explained.

For his part, the Cambodian secretary of state said the number of Vietnamese visitors to Cambodia is expected to reach 500,000 by the end of 2010 and many Cambodian people also visited Vietnam for medical and tourism purposes.

On the same day, the Vung Tau delegation was also received by Phnom Penh Vice Governor Mr. Nuon Someth. Both sides discussed the possibility of tourism cooperation between Phnom Penh and Vung Tau province. --AKP

By CHEA Vannak

-------------------

AKP/05

Cambodia to Head South East Asian Vovinam Federation

Phnom Penh, December 30, 2010 AKP -- Okhna Rath Sokhon, president of the Federation of Vovinam of Cambodia and vice president of the World Vovinam Federation was elected as the president of the South East Asian Vovinam Federation by its Executive Committee in the first General Assembly here on Dec. 28.

The General Assembly was attended by representatives from members of South East Asian Vovinam including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and the host country, Cambodia.

The Federation of Vovinam of Cambodia was established in 2008 by Okhna Rath Sokhon with eight clubs and some 30 athletes.

Cambodian Vovinam athletes have won three gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals in the World Championship and Asian Indoor Games 2009 in Vietnam. --AKP

By Théng

Kasit leaves for Cambodia


via CAAI

Published: 30/12/2010
Online news:

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Thursday flew to Phnom Penh to negotiate for the release of seven Thais, including an MP, arrested on Wednesday for trespassing.

Mr Kasit was accompanied by Thani Thongpakdi, director-general of the Information Department, Mathurapojana Itharong, deputy director-general of the Consular Affairs Department, and high-level Foreign Ministry officials.

The foreign minister said before his departure that he would first look into the circumstances of how Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, People's Alliance for Democracy activist Veera Somkwamkid, and five other Thais were arrested.

Ministry officials had been sent to examine the border point in question so that he could negotiate with Cambodian authorities for their release.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva wants the seven to be released because he had an agreement with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that if people of either side were arrested in connection with the border dispute, the other side could seek the release of its people, he said.

Mr Kasit said he would today meet and talk over the matter with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Mr Panich and his team's trip to the border had nothing to do with the government. The Bangkok MP went there in his capacity as a member of the Joint Border Commission. It was not known whether the team had encroached on the Cambodian soil., he said.

Mr Kasit said he had a reserve plan, in case Cambodia refuses to release the seven Thais.

Arrest of 7 Thais worries Prem


via CAAI

Published: 30/12/2010
Online news:

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and armed forces commanders on Thursday morning had a serious discussion with Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda about the arrest of seven Thais by Cambodia for trespassing.

They discussed the matter for about 20 minutes before Gen Prawit led other top brass to give Gen Prem a New Year blessing.

Gen Prawit, who looked tense, said to reporters: "We are following up the matter and coordinating with Cambodia."

In his speech to high-level military officers standing in lines at his Si Sao Theves residence, Gen Prem said "Today I will spreak briefly because Minister Pom (Gen Prawit Wongsuwon) and armed forces commanders still have many other things to do."

He then gave the top brass a New Year blessing.

A source said Gen Prem told Gen Prawit and other military leaders to quickly find ways of helping the seven Thais, including Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and People's Alliance for Democracy activist Veera Somkwamkid, being held for trespassing in Cambodia for fear that the problem could escalate.

He said the seven had probably not trespassed into Cambodia as the boundary has yet to be clearly defined.

The source said the problem had marred the festive mood of top brass and Thai-Cambodian relations, which had started to improve.

The generals questioned whether it was the seven Thais or the Cambodian soldiers who had trespassed, and said Mr Panich and Mr Veera should have asked soldiers or police to accompany them if visiting an area in dispute, said the source.

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand's premier on Thursday demanded the immediate release of seven Thais, including a ruling party politician, who were detained by Cambodian troops near the countries' disputed border.

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Dec 30, 2010

Phnom Penh - A Thai parliamentarian and six other Thai nationals were questioned by a Cambodian court Thursday after being arrested along the border for alleged trespassing.

Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party was arrested along with the six other Thais Wednesday in a disputed border area between Thailand's Sa Keow province and Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thursday that the seven men should be released immediately and dispatched Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to Phnom Penh to seek their freedom.

Abhisit noted that both countries had previously agreed there should be no soldiers in the disputed area where the Thais had been arrested.

The men visited the border area Wednesday to check on reports that Cambodian soldiers had moved in to villages claimed by Thailand, according to Thai government sources.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said late Wednesday that the case would proceed quickly, adding that he had rebuffed requests from Thai officials to intervene.

'I think Prime Minister Abhisit will understand Cambodian legal procedure, which no one can abuse,' Hun Sen said, adding that the group 'will face legal punishment because Thai lawmakers cannot use their parliamentary immunity in Cambodia.'

A senior Cambodian official said the group was being held for 'trespassing under immigration law.'

'They intruded into Cambodia,' the official said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

The court hearing Thursday was closed to reporters although it was attended by the Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh, Prasas Prasavinitchai.

One of the Thais on trial, Veera Somkwamkit, was previously arrested for illegally entering Cambodia to protest Cambodian soldiers' occupation of Preah Vihear temple, the source of another border dispute between the two countries.

Kasit was scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, in the Cambodian capital later Thursday.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been tense for more than two years with sporadic clashes between troops over disputed territory surrounding Preah Vihear, 200 kilometres east of Banteay Meanchey.

The 11th-century Hindu temple, known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand, belongs to Cambodia under a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice, but jurisdiction of 4.6 square kilometres of adjacent land is still in dispute.

The two countries are currently demarcating their border although talks have been stalled pending a repeatedly delayed vote in the Thai parliament to approve the latest round of negotiations.

Thailand urges Cambodia to free detainees

File photo of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who on Thursday demanded the immediate release of seven Thais, including a ruling party politician, who were detained by Cambodian troops near the countries' disputed border


via CAAI

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand's premier on Thursday demanded the immediate release of seven Thais, including a ruling party politician, who were detained by Cambodian troops near the countries' disputed border.

"Cambodia must release all seven Thais immediately," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters. "Cambodia should not take this case to court as it will further complicate the issue."

The seven, including Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, appeared in a court in Phnom Penh on Thursday for questioning, a day after being detained by Cambodian authorities, who said they had entered its territory illegally.

They were taken to the Phnom Penh municipal court under tight security in the morning for a hearing that was closed to the media, according to an AFP reporter. By mid-afternoon there was still no announcement by the court.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday the seven, who also include members of the royalist "Yellow Shirt" movement, would be charged and put in jail to await trial.

In an attempt to secure their release, the Thai foreign minister was due to travel to Cambodia to meet his counterpart later Thursday.

"Cambodia must take into consideration that if they want cordial ties they should rely on negotiations. If not then there is a problem for both sides," Abhisit said.

He warned that it would be unacceptable to Thailand if Cambodian soldiers had intruded into its territory to make the arrests. Abhisit said he had tasked Panich with seeking information about the border issue.

The two countries have a long-standing dispute over their border, which is not fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since a series of deadly border clashes in July 2008 over land surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status.

Deputy Thai premier Suthep Thaugsuban, however, acknowledged that the seven Thais were on Cambodian territory when arrested.

"Panich and his entourage passed the border police checkpoint and border police followed them by car to ask them to return, but they were already on Cambodian soil," he said.

Speaker series includes survivor


via CAAI

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/29/2010

LONG BEACH - Theary Seng survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia and emigrated to the United States, where she was in the Long Beach area while attending Valley Christian High School.

She has since earned international acclaim for her autobiography, "Daughter of the Killing Fields" and her advocacy work for human rights as founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation in Phnom Penh.

When not working on her many issues, she speaks at conferences all over the world telling her story and touching on issues of justice and reconciliation, democracy, faith and human rights.

Long Beach and surrounding area residents will have the opportunity to listen in on Seng and other speakers who are part of the award-winning January Series, presented by Calvin College and simulcast locally.

A Christian school in Michigan, Calvin College has earned critical acclaim for its annual series of speakers. Since 2008, the presentations have been simulcast and are now heard in 30 locations in the U.S. and abroad.

The Bethany Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower is one of the participants and the only one in the Southland.
This year, the 24th of the series, will feature a diverse group of speakers talking about a variety of faith, ethical and social issues.

"I think (the January Series) gives exposure for some of the most prominent thinkers in many fields," said Stan Cole of Bethany Church.

The speakers include Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., the Rev. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, and Seng, who speaks Jan. 7. A total of 15 presentations will be delivered during the three-week stretch.

The January Series has received recognition for its quality and diversity of perspectives on issues of national and global importance.

The series began simulcasting to other locations in 2008 and is now shown in Canada and Europe.

Cole said the series explores often controversial issues as one of the school's goals "to challenge some long-held truisms."

greg.mellen@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1291

Democrat MP among 7 arrested by Cambodia

http://news.asiaone.com/

via CAAI

Thu, Dec 30, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network

Thailand: MP Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party and six yellow-shirt activists including Veera Somkwamkid will be tried and held in prison in Phnom Penh today, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reportedly said after they were arrested yesterday while inspecting the Sa Kaeo border.

"I believe that the location where I was inspecting is under Thai sovereignty," Panich told The Nation by phone. "The 46th boundary monument that indicates the territory of the two countries is situated in the area."

Panich said his group was walking in a paddy field when eight or nine Cambodian soldiers took them into custody at 11am.

The disputed area in Ban Nong Chan village of Sa Kaeo's Khok Sung district has been claimed by Thailand and Cambodia for decades after a group of Cambodians fled from war to settle there.

Ban Nong Chan residents regard Sri Pen Road as the de facto boundary line and refrain from crossing over to the Cambodian side.

Panich, who is a member of the House committee on boundary affairs and a former vice foreign minister, said he needed to inspect the disputed area after locals complained that Cambodians occupied Thai territory.

Panich's group also included activist Samdin Lertbutr of the Dharma Army Foundation, who has close connections with Chamlong Srimuang, a leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy.

Nationalist Veera claimed Cambodia intruded on to Thai soil at many places, including the areas adjacent to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear. Veera and his group were briefly held by Cambodian authorities in August when they also were inspecting the disputed area near Ban Nong Chan.

Panich made a phone call to inform Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democrat Party's headquarters in Bangkok about his arrest.

Maj-General Walit Rojanapakdi, commander of the Burapha Task Force, which oversees the area, assigned a team to negotiate with Cambodian authorities on releasing Panich and his group.

After the talks at the local level failed, the group was sent to Phnom Penh to begin undergoing prosecution for illegal entry, said Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister. The ministry would try its best and provide legal assistance to help the Panich group return home, he said.

Hun Sen said: "They were measuring Thai territory inside Cambodian territory. So Cambodia has the right to arrest them."

He said the seven would be taken from the border in the northwestern province if Banteay Meanchey to the capital, where they would be charged and then locked up awaiting trial.

"They will be sent to the court on Thursday and when the court charges them, they will be jailed in Prey Sar prison," Hun Sen was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

He said he hoped the incident would not affect relations between the two countries.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over border disputes in recent years after Thailand moved to block Cambodia's proposal to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. The temple was ruled by the International Court of Justice in 1962 as situated inside Cambodia, but Bangkok has argued that the surrounding areas belong to Thailand.

Negotiations to settle the boundary conflict have moved at a snail's pace, as the Joint Boundary Commission cannot proceed with talks without approval from Parliament.