Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cambodians must join to oust Hun Sen

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth

via CAAI

Thirty-two years ago, more than 100,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, smashed Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge guerrillas, took over Phnom Penh, installed a puppet regime in January 1979, and staffed the Hanoi-instituted Cambodian administrations with Vietnamese to oversee the puppet government's activities.

Several thousand Cambodian youths taken in 1954 by the Viet Minh for education, indoctrination and training in Vietnam -- by 1979 in their forties and fifties and fully acculturated in Vietnam -- were brought back to Cambodia.

The puppet government leaders and their Vietnamese masters allowed Vietnamese citizens unrestricted access to live in Cambodia in support of Hanoi's long-term economic and expansionist goals. The immigrants, like the Hanoi-backed Cambodian regime, were illegally installed in Cambodia.

These illegals were integrated into different aspects of Khmer society. There are Vietnamese who speak Khmer and act Cambodian, and many Cambodians who speak and enjoy Vietnamese ways, as this helps get them closer to privileges. An officer of Premier Hun Sen's army told me it's no longer easy to tell who is Vietnamese and who is Cambodian.

Nationally conscious Cambodians hate what has happened in the country, acknowledging their fear that Cambodia and the Khmer race may be subsumed by the country's eastern neighbor. As Cambodian anger mounts, Vietnamese who migrated and have lived in Cambodia since France ruled Indochina, who have families who have lived all their lives in Cambodia, also are threatened by the new arrivals. The "old" Vietnamese know no other place but Cambodia; the "new" Vietnamese are exploiters of Cambodia's resources.

Cambodians called on the Vietnamese to leave Cambodia and for Premier Hun Sen to step down. But the Cambodian-ized Vietnamese are not going anywhere, nor is Hun Sen, elected again and again.

Some Cambodians call for the "reactivation" of the 1991 Paris Peace Accord to restore individual rights, freedom and democracy in Cambodia, and protect her independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The international community's $3 billion U.N.-managed peace initiative never required the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese-propped Heng Samrin/Hun Sen factions to disarm, nor created a politically neutral environment essential for the accords to work. The naïve nationalist KPNLF/KPNLAF and royalist FUNCINPEC/ANS were happy to empty their pockets, in the name of "national reconciliation," with hungry alligators to get closer to the seat of power.

Recall the wide-eyed international community, which thought it could make Cambodia a "success" story, leaving town after the first U.N.-organized elections in 1993.

Today, in the midst of economic crises and world political upheavals, which government would step in to implement the accords?

Hun Sen is now a recipient of so-called Chinese "aid without strings attached" -- no strings so long as Hun Sen agrees to a "one China" policy, deports the Uighurs seeking political asylum and allows unfettered Chinese investment in Cambodia. He and his ruling party can do what they please with the land and national wealth, and thumb their noses at Western financial donors and the U.N.

Frustrated, some bloggers have chided me for not providing a "solution." Actually, they wanted an ABC manual to bring Hun Sen down; ideas and thoughts seem too complicated. Yet, in my column last week, "Stop giving Hun Sen power to rule," I suggested what to do, and not do -- to converge the different efforts by individuals and groups, to disintegrate a dictatorship. A reader emailed to tell me not to "bark" too much and return to Cambodia "to fight" and he will join me. Oh dear.

Last month, an email from a friend from a different continent referenced the necessity to create a "critical mass" in Cambodia to bring a long-lasting change and led me to write on the subject.

Last week, an old Cambodian friend emailed from Phnom Penh to urge continued "fighting" on two main fronts: education and economy. "At least 80 percent of the population (of 14 million) must have at least 10 years of schooling; at least 40 percent of the population must be college graduates, and at least 10 percent must have Ph.D. degrees, ... and the GDP per capita must be at least $10,000," he wrote. Ah, the man of my dreams, I said to myself as I scratched my head. When will we reach that level of education and economic development?

Unless we do, Cambodians have every reason to worry about the disappearance of Cambodia and the Khmer race.

Only last week I quoted statistics by the U.N. Children's Fund that recorded Cambodia's net secondary school enrollment for 2005-2006 at 36 percent for males and 32 percent for females. My questions were: Out of these enrollees, how many actually attend school (which is open only a few hours per day), how many actually graduate from secondary school, how many go on to high school, etc.

So my friend's email made me want to cry to heaven for help. And when I think of the finding that nearly 40 percent of the Cambodian people live under the poverty line of $2 a day -- many live on 50 cents a day -- the suggested $10,000 GDP per capita makes me look for my spiritual balance.

Yet I cannot accept despair. And so I keep on writing and hoping more readers will not remain complacent and will join with others to do something, do many things, which will converge to create a tipping point to cause Hun Sen's government to disintegrate.

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam. Write him at

Road accidents become Cambodia's No.1 killer: minister

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of road accidents has become the No.1 killer in Cambodia among those of HIV/AIDS and mine casualties, Tram Iv Tek, Cambodian minister of public work and transport, said on Wednesday.

He added that the country lost 279 million U.S. dollars in road accidents in 2010, an increase of 13 percent compared to the cost in 2009 of 248 million U.S. dollars.

"It's a great loss of money for Cambodia and it's a major barrier for the country's efforts in economic and social development," the minister said during the launching ceremony on the decade of action for road safety (2011-2020).

"Moreover, the accidents have left a lot of orphans, widows and tens of thousands of disabled people every year."

In 2010, there had been 18,300 road accident victims. Of the figure, 1,816 people were killed and 16,400 people were injured, he said, adding that 70 percent of the deaths were motorcycle drivers.

"Averagely, five people were killed a day in this country, the road crashes have become the first largest danger for Cambodia -- it's higher than the death toll of HIV/AIDS and mine casualties," he said.

Jeroen Stol, country director of Handicap International Belgium, said that unless additional actions are taken, the number of fatalities in Cambodia will increase every year up to 3,200 by 2020.

Cambodia has committed to reducing the number of road fatalities in 2020 by 30 percent (or reducing to 2,240 fatalities), according to the decade of action road safety plan (2011-2020).

Editor: Xiong Tong

Thailand and Cambodia agree to roadmap for troop withdrawal

via CAAI

May 11, 2011
Boris Sullivan

Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, and Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, agreed to propose to their respective governments a “roadmap” in the form of “a package proposal” on how to move forward.

The agreement was reached during their meeting on 9 May 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia, with Mr. Marty Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, in his capacity as the current Chair of ASEAN, attending and facilitating said meeting.

The roadmap encompasses the issues of the exchange of notes between Thailand and Indonesia and between Cambodia and Indonesia regarding the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Indonesian Observers Team, the convening of a meeting of the General Border Committee (GBC), and the withdrawal of Cambodian troops from the Temple of Phra Viharn, Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda and the surrounding areas, namely, the local community and market, before the Indonesian observers can be deployed. The roadmap must be approved by both the Thai and Cambodian governments before further action.

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed that a roadmap will be drawn up for the two countries to withdraw their troops from the areas surrounding Preah Vihear temple and the adjoining community, according to Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Thani Thongphakdi

Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Director-General of the Department of Information and the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson reiterated Thailand’s position that Cambodia must withdraw all of its troops from the specified areas before the Indonesian observer teams can be dispatched. Both sides agreed to take the agreed roadmap to the respective governments for consideration, the implementation of which would be as a package. It is thus mutually understood that Cambodia must withdraw its troops from the specified locations before the Indonesian observers are sent in.

In response to the question about a time-frame for considering the proposed roadmap, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said that this would depend on when it would be included on the Cabinet’s agenda. He noted that all concerned would like to see progress on this matter at the earliest possible but that it has to proceed in accordance with domestic processes of the respective countries.

Regarding the question on whether the proposed roadmap also calls for a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities in the border area, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson stated that this issue should be discussed in detail within the GBC framework, which Thailand has called for since the beginning. Agreement in this connection would be considered as part of the package. Be that as it may, military units on both sides have been in contact and so far no recent clashes took place, which is a positive sign.

In response to a reporter’s question on Indonesia’s view on the matter, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson stated that Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting, saying in a press interview that it was “better than expected.” Thus, media reports suggesting that Indonesia was not satisfied with Thailand’s position are inaccurate.

As for the view of the Deputy Foreign Minister of Malaysia, which was reported in several media outlet, criticizing Thailand as the instigator of the Thai-Cambodian border dispute, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said that it was most likely due to his misunderstanding or a mistake made in the news report.

Thai FM tweeted on result of tripartite talks on border issue

via CAAI

BANGKOK, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Wednesday that Thai government insisted on troop withdrawal before deploying Indonesian observers.

The foreign minister, who returned from 18th Asean Summit in Jakarta on Tuesday, tweeted Wednesday morning on the result of Monday's tripartite talks which include Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

He said he would propose the plan on which all three countries agreed to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Cabinet for their consideration. However, Thailand insisted both countries should withdraw their troops from the areas surrounding the contested Preah Vihear temple and the adjoining community before Indonesian observers would be stationed at the contested Thai- Cambodian border area, said Kasit.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed in February, soon after their deadly clashes on Feb.4 to 7, to accept Indonesian observers on the border but the initiative was delayed after Thailand demanded that Cambodia first pulled troops out of the temple.

Editor: Yang Lina

Watch Hun Sen's devious tactics
via CAAI

Published on May 11, 2011

The news of the foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand softening their stances and participating in a discussion after the Jakarta summit is encouraging.

Prior to this, things seemed to have reached a dead-end.

Personally, I suspect Hun Sen had devised a plan to raise hell at the ten-nation summit by accusing Thailand of bullying a smaller country. But when he could not influence Asean to get more involved in the Cambodian-Thai border wrangle - nor could he force Abhisit to accept foreign observers into the disputed Preah Vihear area on the Thai side - he then ordered his foreign minister, Hor Nam Hong, to take a softer stance toward Thailand again. Until next time. This is Hun Sen's classic provincial style of diplomacy. Be prepared for more headaches to come.

Chavalit Van

Chiang Mai

Chaos as controversial billboards collapse in strong winds

via CAAI

Tuesday, 10 May 2011 18:11Adam Miller and Sen David

THREE of the five huge billboards lining the riverside in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar commune were flattened yesterday by strong winds, leaving one woman injured and at least four houses damaged.

Four motorbikes and one car belonging to Moon Media – the company which constructed the boards – were also crushed as the almost 10-metre high adverts crashed down at about 12:30pm.

More than 100 people gathered at the scene following the incident. Metal poles supporting the billboards lay twisted like garden hoses and the bolts holding them in place were rusted. Concrete foundations had cracked revealing crumbling materials inside that could be scraped away by hand.

Ly Sroun, a 40-year-old resident of Russei Keo district’s Chroy Changvar commune, said yesterday villagers had noticed a structural problem with a metal pole supporting one of the billboards three days before the accident and had reported the issue to their commune chief.

“The leg of the billboard was not strong. The billboard’s owner should have made it stronger,” he said.

Chan Nat, assistant to the Chroy Changvar commune chief, declined to comment on the claim yesterday, but said: “It was very lucky that no one died in this accident.”

Villagers living in the area said yesterday that they feared for their safety.

Leang Ny, a 40-year-old sugar palm juice seller, narrowly escaped injury after one billboard collapsed near her, crushing her cart. “I was so afraid, there was a loud noise that sounded like a gun, but I was able to escape. My sugar palm cart was badly damaged, but I don’t care because I just did not want to get injured or killed,” she said.

Kem Maly, 40, the owner of a badly damaged house, said that one woman had been hurt while stopping to buy a drink at a local shop. She was taken away in an ambulance with a bandaged head and an IV drip.

A young girl had also sustained minor injuries but did not require treatment, Kem Maly said.

“We did not want the authorities to put [the billboards] here and we don’t know what will happen next. We are very worried for our safety,” she added.

Chin Pou, director of the commercial billboard office at Phnom Penh Municipal Hall, said that authorities were working to resolve the situation.

He could not confirm whether or not the billboards would be reconstructed or when compensation would be paid to the victims.

“I am writing a report to the governor. I know that the residents did not want to have a big billboard like this put here and we will put this question [of whether they should stay up] to the governor,” he said.
The billboards were installed by local advertising company Moon Media.

Those knocked over were commissioned by Hello and Beeline mobile phone companies and Hennessy whisky. Advertising boards for Mfone and the Japanese company Kansai Paint remained standing yesterday.

A Moon Media staff member at the company’s office in Canadia Tower, who wished not to be named, said yesterday that the firm was not aware of what caused the billboards to collapse but her superiors had gone to “fix the problem”.

Simon Perkins, Chief Executive Officer of Hello, said yesterday that he was concerned with the safety of the billboards but added that he would still consider advertising with Moon Media in the future “as long as the owner makes sure it is more safe”.

“They have to convince us it is safe before we get it back up – it’s their responsibility,” he said. “The structure was unsafe; it’s blown over in a storm so it’s clearly not safe.”

When asked if Moon Media would be forced to pay for damages in addition to compensation for the victims, Perkins said “they have insurance for that”.

Co-prosecutor responds to Cayley

Co-Prosecutors Andrew Cayley and Chea Leang exchange words at the ECCC last year. ECCC/Pool

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:02James O’Toole and Cheang Sokha

KHMER Rouge tribunal co-prosecutor Chea Leang has responded to a statement from her international counterpart calling for further investigation in the court’s controversial third case, reiterating her opposition to the investigation and claiming that the suspects are out of the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

In a statement on Monday, international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said he believed allegations set forth by the prosecution in a 2009 submission to the court’s investigating judges “have not been fully investigated”. The statement followed an announcement from the investigating judges last month that they had concluded their Case 003 investigation, though they did limited field investigation and did not even interview the suspects in the case, causing court observers to charge that the investigation had been deliberately curtailed in the face of government opposition.

Cayley listed a series of additional investigative steps in his statement that he said he planned to request that the judges perform, as he is permitted to do under the rules of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as the tribunal is formally known.

Cambodian officials, however, have repeatedly expressed opposition to Case 003 as well as the still-pending Case 004, and yesterday, Chea Leang renewed her claim that the suspects in Case 003 fall outside the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

“The National Co-Prosecutor maintains that the named suspects in Case File 003 do not fall within the jurisdiction of the ECCC to be brought to trial and that the Tribunal’s mandate can be adequately fulfilled through the prosecution of the Accused persons in the ECCC Detention Facility,” Chea Leang said in a statement. The agreement between the United Nations and the government that established the tribunal, she added, “envisaged the prosecution of a limited number of people”.

The identities of the suspects in Case 003 remain officially confidential, though court documents reveal them as former Khmer Rouge navy commander Meas Muth and air force commander Sou Met.

International prosecutor William Smith made submissions for Cases 003 and 004 to the investigating judges in 2009 without the support of Chea Leang after a lengthy dispute over the issue. Cambodian court staff have consistently expressed opposition to these cases, echoing public remarks by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has warned that prosecutions beyond Case 002 could plunge the Kingdom into civil war.

Prosecutors have said they will not request further investigations beyond Case 004.

In response to Cayley’s statement on Monday, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the government’s stance on the issue remained the same, repeating a warning about the additional cases to the tribunal’s international staff.

“If they want to go into Case 003 or 004, they should just pack their bags and return home,” he said.

Yesterday, however, he sought to walk back his remarks, saying the government thinks “the court should be allowed to do its work”.

“In general, we should let the court officials do their job,” he said. “The government is not involved in that.”

The 2003 agreement between the government and the UN establishing the tribunal empowers it to prosecute “senior leaders” and those “most responsible” for Khmer Rouge crimes. But John Ciorciari, a senior legal adviser with the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said in an email that specific questions about the ECCC’s jurisdiction were “never adequately resolved in the political negotiations to create the court”.

“If cases 003 and 004 are dismissed, the decision not to interview suspects will raise legitimate questions on whether the dismissals were pre-planned, especially if dismissals are justified by a lack of evidence,” he said.

“If the ECCC does dismiss the cases, it will be important not to appear to dress up jurisdictional disputes in the guise of insufficient evidence.”

In his statement on Monday, Cayley provided details on a number of crime sites being investigated as part of Case 003 in an attempt to aid prospective civil party applicants interested in joining the case. The move apparently came in response to the fact that the investigating judges had provided no such details, even after the conclusion of their investigation.

Under court rules, victims have until next Wednesday to submit civil party applications, though Cayley has asked the judges to extend this deadline by six weeks.

Civil party lawyer Silke Studzinsky said yesterday that there was “high interest” in the case among prospective civil parties, but that these people had unfortunately received no guidance from the court on the issue prior to Cayley’s statement.

“Very often when I’m in the provinces and talk to victims and civil parties, they often ask about Case 003 and Case 004,” she said.

Ministers agree on observers

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:02Cheang Sokha

CAMBODIA and Thailand have finally hammered out an agreement to allow teams of Indonesian military observers to be dispatched along their shared border, after deadly fighting between the two countries broke out once again last month.

Following clashes in February near Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia and Thailand agreed to allow the Indonesian teams to be dispatched on either side of the border. The Thai military later backed out of the deal, however, and last month, fighting broke out again, this time along the border near Oddar Meanchey province.

Leaders of both countries attended a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta at the weekend, and at a meeting on Monday afternoon following the summit’s conclusion, their foreign ministers finalised an agreement on the observers’ presence.

“The meeting aimed to find a peaceful solution and avoid further armed conflicts,” Hor Namhong said following the meeting in an interview broadcast by the Cambodian Television Network. “Each side will ask its respective government to approve this proposal as soon as possible.”

Among the six points of the agreement, he said, is a stipulation that Thailand must accept the presence of the observers in the disputed territory near Preah Vihear, and that the approval of the observers’ terms of reference come in conjunction with the scheduling of meetings for the bilateral Joint Border Committee and General Border Committee.

Following his return from Jakarta yesterday, Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the dissolution of the Thai parliament this week would not affect the agreement.

“Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will ask his cabinet to approve the six-point

agreement package by Tuesday of next week,” he said.

Thai officials could not be reached for comment yesterday, though The Bangkok Post quoted Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon as saying that Cambodia must withdraw its troops from the area surrounding Preah Vihear ahead of the observers’ arrival.

Indonesia currently holds the chair of ASEAN, and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa mediated at the meeting on Monday. Afterwards, he reportedly praised the countries for coming to an agreement.

“The achievement this afternoon exceeded my expectations,” The Bangkok Post quoted him as saying. “I’m not underestimating the scale of the problem, but they have overcome their mutually exclusive demands.”

But despite the diplomatic breakthrough, tensions remain along the border. Yesterday, The Bangkok Post said the Thai Army had ordered a halt of all fuel exports to Cambodia “and other products the Cambodian military may need to support their troops in operations against Thai forces”.

Cambodian Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat dismissed the move, saying Cambodia has “never imported any products from Thailand for use within the Cambodian military”.

“We’re not concerned about this ban and it will not impact us at all,” he said.

Teamwork tackles land rights

Villagers armed with clubs and slingshots await the return of police after clashes over land in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district on March 18, 2010. The government and rights groups met to discuss land rights yesterday. Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:01May Titthara and David Boyle

ANTICORRUPTION Unit head Om Yentieng has agreed to jointly investigate land disputes across Cambodia with outspoken local rights group Adhoc.

Speaking at a two-day land rights conference held at the Cambodiana hotel in Phnom Penh, Om Yentieng said he had agreed to the move following a proposal from Adhoc President Thorn Saray.

“It doesn’t mean that we must speak a common language when working together, but a working group will go to see the problems and make individual judgments through respective reports,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.

He said the investigation, which he would carry out in his capacity as Cambodian Human Rights Commission president, would commence as soon as Adhoc was ready. Thun Saray yesterday welcomed the chance to cooperate with the government though he stressed Adhoc and CHRC had made different findings when previously investigating land conflicts.

“Cooperation is good. We’ll work together to find the facts and if the project goes smoothly, it will benefit the people. Working together does not mean that we have no right to speak [out]. We will still talk,” he said.

Despite the spirit of unity between the rights group Adhoc and the government, Om Yentieng also took several swipes at other right groups attending the workshop. The event was co-hosted by the European Union and four other human rights bodies including the CHRC.

He repeatedly questioned their capacity to impartially assess land disputes and at one point suggested Adhoc employees enjoyed luxury accommodation during field trips.

“Anyone can be a lawyer but don’t try and be a judge,” he warned. “They cannot judge arbitrarily by closing their eyes. There are also many powerful people who have lost the court cases as well.”

He claimed that government-granted economic land concessions were not the source of disputes, as each claim was carefully evaluated and in some cases concessions were revoked.

“The Royal Government pays attention to this issue and is not rigid but is flexible, unlike some people have claimed. More and more land concessions that are being granted are not the sources of land disputes,” he said.

Chargé d’affaires of the EU delegation, Rafael Dochao Moreno, said the workshop was intended to foster an open dialogue between the government and rights groups and help build mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

“We share the same concerns, everybody now knows that land issues are a question of concern and are something that should be addressed immediately,” he said.

He declined to comment on any specific land disputes, but generally condemned the use of force to evict people.

Ny Chakrya, head of the land rights section at Adhoc, told the workshop that of the 184 firms granted economic land concessions since 2010, only 58 had begun developing their plots.

“There are some ambiguities here in getting land concessions because 14 firms have no contract with the Ministry of Agriculture,” he claimed, adding that 85 firms had their licences revoked since last year because of inactivity.

Thai tourism role small, says govt

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:01Soeun Say

CAMBODIAN government officials have emphasised the independence of the domestic tourism industry from its Thai counterpart in a statement.

Ministry of Tourism Secretary of State So Mora told the Post the Kingdom’s tourist attractions stood very much on their own, and that if anything the two countries enjoyed mutual benefits from visitors to the region.

“So we’re not really dependent on Thailand for anything to survive. On the contrary, Thailand’s tourism sector earns a lot of profit from tourism to Cambodia,” he said.

So Mara pointed to package tours being sold by Thailand that included trips to Cambodia and well-known sites like Angkor Wat, as well as the country’s eco-tourism destinations.

He also said that Cambodia’s tourism sector remained strong during the global economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, while Thailand’s industry saw declines.

“The numbers of foreign tourists arriving in our country increases every year, and it shows that our tourism sector is not at all dependent on Thailand," he said.

So Mara added that Thailand is not the main route into Cambodia anymore, as flights from elsewhere in Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole, as well as Europe, bring new visitors to the country every year. Tourists can enter through borders gates other than those shared with Thailand as well, he said.

Cambodian Association of Travel Agents President Ang Kim Eang yesterday agreed with So Mara, saying tourists now have many points through which to access the Kingdom, which made the country less dependent on Thailand.

But he also said Thailand has come to depend in part on Cambodia for tourism revenues, such as in the case of Preah Vihear.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has released a statement claiming Thailand’s Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya told reporters at last week’s ASEAN Summit in Jakarta that Cambodia’s tourism industry was reliant on Thailand.

The statement could not verified by Thai sources yesterday.

The Jakarta Post last Monday quoted Kasit Piromya as saying: “…there’s a growth in Thai tourism to Cambodia and at the same time, we are a transit point as international airlines come to Thailand and visitors take regional airlines to Cambodia. So Thailand is an entry point for Cambodian tourism.”

Rainsy appeal postponed

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:02Meas Sokchea

A HEARING in Sam Rainsy’s appeal against a 10-year jail term handed down against him last year for falsifying public documents and spreading disinformation was delayed yesterday, as the opposition leader was judged not to have legal representation.

Although Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, attended the hearing at the invitation of the court, he said he had not been asked by the Sam Rainsy Party leader, who is living in self-imposed exile in France, to represent him.

Last September, Rainsy was found guilty of the charges in connection with maps he produced of Cambodia’s border with Vietnam in Svay Rieng province.

He was sentenced in September to 10 years jail and fined US$14,000.

Sam Rainsy yesterday issued a statement from France in which he called the court “laughable” and said that he merely “used and published both French-made maps and United States-made maps to show that they corroborate one another regarding border delimitation between Cambodia and Vietnam”.

When quizzed by judge Khun Leang Meng about his appearance at the hearing, Choung Choungy said: “His Excellency Sam Rainsy did not depend on me to defend him.”

Judge Khun Leang Meng said that because yesterday’s hearing involved a criminal case, the court could not proceed without Sam Rainsy being represented.

The case was delayed for a 30-day period to allow the opposition leader to find representation. After that period, the court will ask the Cambodian Bar Association to appoint a lawyer to defend him.

Government lawyer Ky Tech said yesterday that he did not oppose the court’s decision to delay.

Official 'recruited air forces' illegally

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:02Chhay Channyda

A DEPUTY district governor from Kampong Thom province and a local villager were charged on Sunday with illegally recruiting seven local residents to work as air force officials, police said yesterday.

District Police Chief Cheng Saron said that Prasat Sambo Deputy District Governor Thun Saren, 42, and villager Thon Thy, of Sambo commune, were arrested after they had recruited seven villagers on April 3.

“We knew the problem when all villagers came to Phnom Penh to have blood tests,” he said. “[Thun Saren and Thon Thy] said that they had no documents, so we arrested them and sent them to the provincial court.”

Cheng Saron added that some military officials could have been involved in the suspected illegal recruitment.

Chou Sam Orn, deputy provincial police chief, claimed that Thun Saren was promised US$100 for each villager he recruited but did not identify who had offered him the money. He added that the villagers had been sent home. “They are poor and jobless, so when they were promised jobs, they agreed,” he said.

Hundreds face Siem Reap eviction

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:02Thik Kaliyann

Siem Reap Province

HUNDREDS of villagers living in Siem Reap’s Prey Choam forest, who were sold the land by a military brigadier in 2005, have been told they will be evicted in July to make way for a reforestation project.

Chheng Kim Son, general director of the provincial Forestry Administration, said the villagers were sold the land by Brigadier Peuy Pel, who was arrested in January this year over suspicion of his involvement in the anti-government group Cambodian Freedom Fighters.

“The villagers who are living on the land have become a problem,” Kim Son said. “Recently hundreds of families from various provinces have moved here after buying land illegally from Peuy Pel. They will be faced with relocation in the near future.”

He alleged that in order to sell the 1,000 hectare area of land in Banteay Srei’s Knar Rongveas village, Peuy Pel had set fire to the forest – requiring a costly reforestation programme.

“[Reforestation] may cost up to US$50,000 per hectare. If we let illegal wood harvesting get out of control it will affect the natural beauty of Cambodia and lead to a loss of tourist income,” he said.

The reclaimed land, which he said had been awarded back to the Forestry Administration from Puey Pel in 2006, would be used to plant 10,000 acacia and ebony trees.

Banteay Srei District Chief Meung Vuthy said yesterday that no provisions had been made to help the villagers relocate.

Prior to his arrest in January, Peuy Pel had appeared in court several times on charges ranging from illegal logging to land-grabbing in areas around Prey Choam.

Debate on sub-national finance law begins

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:02Thet Sambath

NATIONAL assembly members debated a draft law on financial structuring and the management of state’s assets at a sub-national level yesterday. The draft law aims to give more power to provincial, town and district authorities to manage their own finances and state property. “Even though they would be given power, they have to get permission and approval from the national level”, Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said. Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said that although the law would give more power at a commune level, it was only on paper. “It is not perfect at all but it will go [through] step by step”, Cheam Yeap added. The draft law has eight chapters comprising of 56 articles and was drawn up by Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Interior. The debate will continue today.

Laos agrees to suspend work on hydro-dam

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:01Mary Kozlovski

THE Laos government has temporarily suspended work on a proposed US$3.8 billion hydropower dam on the lower Mekong, Vietnamese state media reported yesterday.

According to Vietnam News Agency, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong informed Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung that Laos would halt work on the 1,260MW Xayaburi dam project, during a meeting on Saturday on the side of the 18th ASEAN summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Bangkok Post published pictures last month that showed infrastructure work was being carried out by the Thai company backing the dam, CH Karnchang Public Company Limited.

On Sunday, it reported that Viraphonh Viravong, director general of the department of electricity at Laos’ Ministry of Energy and Mines, defended the construction, saying that it was “fairly common practise”.

Surasak Glahan, communications officer at the Mekong River Commission, a regional intergovernmental body created to manage the Mekong River, said yesterday that Vietnamese authorities had confirmed the new report.

“But there has not been confirmation from the Laos authorities,” he added.

MRC has also not received clarification from Laos over reports of construction near the dam site.

Pianporn Deetes, Mekong campaigner for conservation organisation International Rivers, yesterday welcomed the news but said that confirmation was needed from Laos and Thai authorities.

“It is also very important that [Laos] removes equipment from the site to confirm that there is no construction going on,” she said.

At a special Joint Committee Meeting of the MRC on April 19, government representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam deferred a decision on whether to end consultation on the Xayaburi dam project to ministerial level.

Ministers from the four countries are expected to determine whether to end discussion on the dam project, which has raised concerns among environmental groups and NGOs about its potential impact on communities in the lower Mekong.

Te Navuth, secretary general of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Officials from the Laos embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment.

VisionFund receive MFI licence for deposits

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:00Tom Brennan

MICROFINANCE institution VisionFund Cambodia has received a licence from the National Bank of Cambodia to accept deposits, according to a statement from the firm.

The service will allow the MFI to diversify its financial products on offer to lower-income households, it said.

“Apart from our strong financial position, our current systems, facilities and human resources are well placed to launch the deposit service,” CEO Chee Chin Hoe said in the statement.

“Our next approach will focus on further efforts to promote public awareness to recognise us as a safe and worthy custodian and manager for their deposits, and at the same time we hope to inculcate the habit of saving among the poor.”

The MFI said in the statement that deposits made at VisionFund in riel for one year would earn up to 9 percent per annum, while riel deposits for two years would earn 10 percent per annum. Deposits made in US dollars would earn annual rates of 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

Julie Cheng, Director at BlueOrchard Finance, a large-scale lender to the Kingdom’s MFI industry, wrote VisionFund Cambodia’s move to accept deposits was an important one, as it allowed access to bank savings accounts to Cambodians who might not otherwise have it.

The minimum balances of traditional banks are typically above what low-income Cambodians can maintain, among other conditions that make bank accounts inaccessible, she said.

According to Cheng, MFIs also typically have a larger branch network than most Cambodian commercial banks, and they also penetrate more deeply into the rural areas.

“They can help educate consumers about the benefits of savings, as well as provide a secure place for clients to put their savings, however small,” she said.

“In the long run, deposits will also be a way for MFIs to diversify their funding sources and reduce their funding costs,” she added.

VisionFund Cambodia currently claims a loan portfolio of more than US$31 million with over 104,000 borrowers mostly in suburban and rural areas, focusing on Phnom Penh and some 17 provinces the company said.

Camko Bank to receive specialised status

A girl walks past Camko Bank on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh earlier this week. The bank is set to be downgraded in July. Photo by: Hong Menea

via CAAI

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:00Jeremy Mullins and Tom Brennan

CAMKO Bank is in talks to downgrade from a commercial bank to a specialised bank, according to National Bank of Cambodia Director General and Spokeswoman Nguon Sokha.

Camko’s “voluntary downgrade” would likely be the last such transition following a central bank requirement to triple the capital at commercial banks, she said.

Officials at Camko did not return requests for comment.

However, a teller at the lone branch in Phnom Penh, on Norodom Boulevard, told reporters the bank was not accepting new depositors and that Camko’s downgrade to a specialised bank would be completed in July. Specialised banks differ from commercial banks in that they cannot accept deposits.

In a 2008 prakas, or edict, the NBC announced that by the end of 2010, commercial banks must have a minimum of at least 150,000,000,000 riel (US$37 million) unless at “least one influential shareholder [is] a bank or financial institution” with a rating “investment grade,” according to an unofficial translation.

Late last year, Angkor Capital Bank officials announced it would transition to a specialised bank in order to focus on its core competencies of lending and loan syndication in a competitive sector.

Nguon Sokha said on Monday that the National Bank of Cambodia’s intent with the prakas was to focus on “strengthening the law and the quality of banking in Cambodia”.

In 2009, the last year for which the NBC’s figures are available, Camko Bank held about US$45.2 million in assets, comprising a 0.9-percent share of the Cambodian banking market.

Market anaylsis explained

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:00Anthony Galliano

INVESTORS in the United States markets can select among over 2,800 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, and more than 3,000 on the NASDAQ market. With close to 6,000 stocks to chose from, Securities Analysts play a vital role in evaluating companies and issuing research and opinions to the investing community.

A Securities Analyst is a person who evaluates and studies the financial instruments of stocks and bonds of corporations, and issues reports and opinions to assist investors in making investment decisions.

The Securities Analyst reviews publically available information such as periodic financial disclosures, industry news and company filings, and also communicates directly with the company by meeting its management and participating in company conference calls.

There are generally two types of Securities Analysts. A buy-side analyst provides research and recommendations for the investment managers of the company in which they work, which is typically an institutional investor such as pension or mutual fund. These recommendations would not be made available publically.

A sell-side analyst works for a broker-dealer, and indirectly for its trading customers, and their evaluations may result in recommendations on stocks, typically a rating of “buy”, “sell” or “hold”. The firm may see trading activity and investment banking deals based on the recommendations and thus this activity is usually highly regulated in most markets to avoid conflicts of interest.

Stock market analysis generally falls into two categories. Fundamental analysis attempts to find the intrinsic value of the stock by focusing on the economic outlook, analysis of the industry the firm operates in and the company’s financials. Metrics such as forecasted future cash flows, earnings, revenue growth rates, price to earnings ratio and dividend payout are considered along with economic conditions and industry competitiveness.

If the intrinsic value is lower than the market price, then the analyst will likely recommend the purchase of the stock. Fundamental analysis maintains that a security may be mispriced in the short-run, but the market will eventually recognise this and reprice the security correctly, thus resulting in a profit for investors who traded the mispriced security.

Technical analysis incorporates behavioural economics and quantitative analysis to forecast the direction of prices through the study of past market data, primarily price and volume.

Among the techniques of technical analysts is the study of charts to identify price patterns and market trends in order to exploit those patterns. In addition to the use of market indicators such as up and down volume and advance decline data, technical analysts track investor sentiment, whether bullish or bearish.

Technical analysis suggests prices trend directionally, up down or sideways and that investors collectively repeat the behaviour of the investors that preceded them. Technical analysis is not concerned with the value of the stock and maintains that all information is already reflected in the stock price. Forecasts of prices are extrapolations from historical price patterns.

Initially only three stocks are expected to be listed on the Cambodian exchange. As listings increase so will the demand for research. This will create both employment openings and an opportunity for brokers to provide value added services to their clients.

Anthony Galliano is Chief Executive Officer at Cambodian Investment Management.

Cambodia credit bureau confirmed by Veda

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:00Post Staff

VEDA Advantage confirmed that it had won a global tender to open a credit bureau in Cambodia yesterday, according to the New Zealand Herald newspaper. Veda will take a 49 percent stake in the venture with the Association of Banks in Cambodia, and is expected to launch as soon as July, according to Cambodian banking officials last week. The firm’s Cambodia-based representatives declined to discuss the bureau yesterday. POST STAFF

Floating port figures

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:00SOEUN SAY/ BLOOMBERG

A CARGO ship nears Phnom Penh Autonomous Port. Shipments through the port increased 34 percent during the first four months compared to the same period last year, according to figures provided by the port. Some 21,665 twenty-foot equivalent units were transported to the port, 5,541 more than the first four months of 2010, between January and April this year. Port Director General Hei Bavy said the increase was due to a rise in both the import and export of agricultural products, textiles and raw material for the garment sector. 'In these months, we noticed that agricultural products are the main factor for the increase in shipments to the port, compared to last year,' he said. 'I hope the figure doubles this year.' So Nguon, president of So Nguon Group, said his firm was seeing growth in garments and agricultural products.

AKP : The Agent Kampuchea Press

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Minister of Information Contributes US$10000 for Air Medical Evacuation

AKP Phnom Penh, May 11, 2011—H.E Mr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information donated this morning US$10000 as a contribution to the cost of air medical evacuation for Mr. Reach Sambath, who was hit by a stroke of blood pressure late afternoon yesterday.

The contribution made by the minister is part of the total amount of US$28000 to hire a chartered flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, where Mr. Reach Sambath is expected to be admitted at a hospital for medical treatment. The evacuation is scheduled for this afternoon.

Mr. Reach Sambath , a public affairs officer at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Court of Cambodia is at press time in Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh. Last night, medical experts made assessment on his condition. He is now in critical condition and needs further expertise to save his life.

By Kimseng

COMMENTARY: Malaysia’s Fair Stance on Cambodia-Thailand Border Conflict

AKP Phnom Penh, May 11, 2011 – Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Riot Jaem made remarks, widely quoted on 9-10 May 2011 in media coverage, saying that “If Thailand would accept and adhere to the agreement, I think clashes will not arise.”

Cambodia highly appreciates the complete, clear, unbiased understanding about the root cause of the Cambodia-Thailand conflicts, which have repeatedly erupted since 2008, and the acts of aggression by means of large-scale military attacks lately launched by Thailand on Cambodia, which have been the fiercest. The clashes not only claimed many lives of Cambodia’s civilians and armed forces, but they also forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes that were severely damaged as a result of the artillery shells fired by the invading Thai troops. The clashes also caused grave damage to the Temple of Preah Vihear, a World Heritage site, as well as to the temples of Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, situated on Cambodian legitimate territory.

Cambodia has always welcomed the presence of Indonesian observers, as mandated by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting held last February, and recently also called for by the Heads of State and the Heads of Government at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. Cambodia has agreed to the terms of reference (TOR) so that the observers may be assigned, in order to determine who started the attack, as well as to put an end to Thailand’s repeated aggression against Cambodia.

To express her goodwill, as early as 3 March 2011 Cambodia signed the letter of acceptance to the terms of reference allowing Indonesian observers to carry out their mission in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear, and Cambodia has accepted all the following changes to the terms of reference insisted by Thailand as follows:

 First change on 26 February 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 27 February 2011;
 Second change on 8 March 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 9 March 2011;
 Third change on 15 March 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 16 March 2011;
 Fourth change on 08 April 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 08 April 2011;
 Fifth change on 11 April 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 12 April 2011;
 Sixth change on 28 April 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 30 April 2011; and
 Seventh change on 01 May 2011 was agreed by Cambodia on 02 May 2011.

In contrast, as a manoeuvre on 21 February 2011, a day before the meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Indonesia, Thai government announced that it would welcome Indonesian observers to be stationed in the disputed border area, but since then has used every means to delay their assignment by repeatedly changing the terms of reference — seven times so far — and has still not yet agreed to them. As mentioned above, the Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister stated that “All the 10 countries, I stress, including Thailand and Cambodia, agreed to the agreement, but sad to say, the agreement was brought back to the respective two countries. Cambodia accepted it, Thailand did not accept.”

Although Indonesia’s President and Foreign Minister made great efforts to coordinate the meeting between the Cambodian and Thai Foreign Ministers on 9 May 2011, which resulted in a package resolution to the border conflict, including the dispatch of Indonesia observers to the Temple of Preah Vihear, the initiatives remain stalled because Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has destroyed all these efforts, by saying on 10 May 2011 that “Thailand’s stance remains the same. If Cambodia doesn’t withdraw its troops from the disputed border area, no observers will be sent there.” Thailand clearly knows that this condition is not acceptable to Cambodia because Cambodia cannot withdraw her troops and people from Cambodian territory. The Thai Prime Minister’s remarks clearly demonstrate Thailand’s tactics to prevent Indonesian observers from being sent to monitor the permanent ceasefire. This is a continuation of Thailand’s policy of closing the door to attack Cambodia so that it can commit its crime of seizing Cambodian territory before the arrival of Indonesian observers.

From day to day, the international community understands more clearly these Thai tricks, and can see that the assignment of observers in the Temple of Preah Vihear area is the only means to realise an effective and verifiable ceasefire as well as to prevent renewed military attacks launched by Thailand.

Phnom Penh, 11 May 2011
Press and Quick Reaction Unit


Cambodia, China Sign Loan Agreement to Develop Stung Sreng Reservoir

AKP Phnom Penh, May 11, 2011 – China has provided over US$52 million in soft loan to Cambodia in order to develop Stung Sreng reservoir.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon and visiting Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of China Zhu Hongjie signed here on Monday the loan agreement.

The loan is part of the US$400-million financing agreement signed on Dec. 21, 2009 between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Export-Import Bank of China.

The Stung Sreng water resource development project covers three provinces – Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey. The project includes two master-canals in the total length of more than 81 kilometers and 18 sub-canals with a total length of 93.4 kilometers, 130 bridges across canals and water gates.

Once completed, the Stung Sreng reservoir will be capable to irrigate 25,000 ha of rice fields in rainy season and 3,750 hectares in dry season, as well as supply clean water and reduce flood in the provinces.

The signing of this loan agreement reflects the spirit of good friendship and high attention from the government of China on Cambodian government and people and the long-lasting partnership between the two countries.

Article in Khmer by HUN Yuth Kun
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul


Bank of China Ltd. Phnom Penh Branch Opened

AKP Phnom Penh, May 11, 2011 – The Bank of China (BOC) Ltd. opened its branch here last Saturday under the presidency of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon.

The presence of BOC here responds to the request and need of the Chinese investors doing business in Cambodia, stressed visiting Mr. Yue Yi, BOC executive vice president.

BOC has the total assets of over 11 trillion Chinese Yuan (or US$1.7 trillion). It has branches in 31 countries around the world, he said.

For his part, H.E. Chea Chanto, Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, said the bank’s presence here reflects Chinese investors’ trust in contributing to the development of the fields of banking and finance in Cambodia.

Deputy Prime Minster H.E. Keat Chhon also highly valued the presence of BOC in Cambodia, which he said is very significant to help Cambodia develop its banking industry and economy. He also asked BOC to provide investment funds in the agricultural field.

By LIM Nary


Study Reveals Limited Understanding of Causes and Impacts of Climate Change Among Cambodians

AKP Phnom Penh, May 11, 2011 – A vast majority of Cambodian people (95 percent) said that their livelihood has been affected by changes in the weather. At the same time, most Cambodians show limited understanding of climate change and how they could respond, according to a survey report entitled Understanding Public Perceptions of Climate Change in Cambodia released yesterday by the Ministry of Environment.

The report notes that most people think extreme weather events such as flood and drought are more frequent and intense, and they associate weather changes with rising temperatures, farming difficulties, reduced yield, drought, water shortages, and disease.

“This Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) survey report is another major step that enables us to better understand public perceptions, and thus mainstream climate change in the country’s development efforts,” said H.E. Dr. Mok Mareth, Senior Minister, Minister of Environment. “The dissemination of timely, relevant information will be central to enabling us and our partners to respond to climate change, one of the world’s greatest development issues of the century.”

Climate change is expected to have serious environmental, economic, and social impacts on Cambodia as the Cambodian people have fewer resources and technology to adapt. In particular, rural farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the use of natural resources, are likely to bear the brunt of adverse impacts. Understanding public perceptions of climate change is particularly important for concerned institutions to design programs that put local communities at the centre of their strategy, as the people are facing variable and reduced yields, water shortages, and an increase in pests and diseases on their crops.

“The findings are essential for all actors to make smarter investments in addressing climate change, particularly develop policies and programs that empower poor and marginalized communities to adapt to and recover from climate hazards,” said Brian Lund, Oxfam’s East Asia Regional Director, on behalf of the agencies supporting the KAP study. “These investments must help vulnerable communities build resilience to the unpredictable weather that jeopardizes their livelihood, especially in agricultural production.”

More than half of the survey respondents think they are unable to respond to weather changes and said they do not have the information they need to respond to these changes. Most of the people surveyed have incomplete understanding about the causes of climate change. They associate changes in the weather to local activities and do not understand the interplay of causes at the global level. Two-thirds (67 percent) said deforestation in Cambodia cause the weather to change. Scientific consensus links current climate change to both natural forces and human activities, and the largest known human contribution comes from the burning of fossil fuels, mainly used to produce electricity, heat, and transport.

The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Danida, Oxfam, and UNDP in 2010 commissioned the BBC World Service Trust to conduct this KAP survey on Cambodian public perceptions of climate change, using a nationally representative sample of 2,401 respondents and additional interviews with 101 key informants including journalists, NGO staff and government officials. The report aims to provide comprehensive information for all stakeholders–NGOs, Development Partners, public and private sectors–in developing their response programs to help Cambodians adapt to climate change.

New package means more negotiations

via CAAI

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on May 11, 2011

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa showed his talents as an Asean diplomat when he employed Asean-style diplomacy to facilitate a peace process between Thailand and Cambodia. Asean-style diplomacy means if a problem cannot be solved right away, then let it continue.

Asean believes that letting quarrels take place on the table is better than having them fire guns at each other, even though countries in this region prefer the fight-talk tactic to achieve their goal in foreign relations.
The new package, which the Thai side refers to as a "road map", is nothing more than a platform for prolonged negotiation. The package was adopted at a meeting between Natalegawa, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in Jakarta on Monday.

The ultimate goal for Thailand is to get Cambodia to withdraw its troops from the Preah Vihear area and its vicinity. Cambodia and Indonesia's ultimate goal is to have a team of Indonesian observers parked at the border area.

Jakarta also has its own stake in the matter - if it can facilitate a settlement to the border row, Indonesia would be able to prove itself as a true regional leader.

Natalegawa put all conditions and demands from both sides into the package, which he explained at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday night. "We talk about who must do what in advance before taking the next step … it is a process".

In reality, this means that Thailand will not see the withdrawal of Cambodian troops before the Indonesian team of observers is deployed to the border. The troop withdrawal would have to be discussed by the General Border Committee (GBC), which is chaired by the defence ministers of both sides, provided Thailand formally submits a letter to Jakarta accepting the terms of reference in relation to the team of observers.

It is a smart solution because Natalegawa knows that both sides want to claim a technical victory to maintain their scores on the domestic political front. That's probably why he told reporters: "This is a process approach, not an event. This is accepted by both parties, because no one is winning or losing."

The package, however, would not bring immediate peace to the border because more rounds of negotiations are needed before implementation. The package is simply a continuation of the momentum for peace talks.

Actually, the ball is now in Thailand's court. The government has to decide if it wants to formally accept the terms of reference. Though Bangkok has accepted the text of the TOR, it has yet to send a formal letter of acceptance to Indonesia. According to Natalegawa, the TOR would be accepted at about the time the GBC meets.

However, this is not going to happen in a hurry. Thailand has far too many reasons to delay the process. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose government does not have a full mandate now that the House has been dissolved, said yesterday that he had maintained his position - Cambodia must withdraw before Indonesian observers can be deployed.

It would be politically incorrect for Abhisit to comply with the new package without any conditions, because the conservative nationalists, who are the main supporters of his government, do not want to see a third party get involved in the conflict with Cambodia.

Abhisit said his Cabinet needed to discuss the new package next week before making a decision.

The premier hinted that Thailand might call on Indonesia to dispatch an advance team to survey the border area before it fully accepts the observers. This would give his government some air to breathe as it campaigns for votes.

San Jose Cambodian community awaits justice

via CAAi
By Becky Palmstrom

One of the worst genocides of the 20th century happened in Cambodia, in the 1970s. The extremist Khmer Rouge party, led by Pol Pot tried to create a rural farming society, evacuating people from their homes and jobs in urban areas to the country, where many were killed by the government, starved, or were worked to death.

KENNETH QUINN: The Khmer Rouge had a plan, and it was to remove all of these impediments so that then what is left is malleable group of peasant-citizens and others who were not in these classes, could be transformed into this new socialist Khmer Rouge communist person.

That was former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, Kenneth Quinn. Almost overnight, high schools were converted into prisons and the city's teachers, engineers, and lawyers were locked up in them. Hospitals were emptied out and shut down, the nurses and doctors killed for being intellectuals, and the patients told they had to figure out how to survive without medicine. A fifth of Cambodia's population died in what became known as the Killing Fields.

QUINN: They did that by uprooting everybody, separate families, take the children away, turn the children against the parents, destroy religion. Break down every stricture of society because then you have stripped away everything that in the view of the Khmer Rouge was corrupt and imposed from the West.

Many of the survivors became refugees and over one hundred thousand of them came to resettle in America. Now, they have a chance to seek justice. Reporter Becky Palmstrom has that story.

* * *

BECKY PALMSTROM: In June an international court in Cambodia will try four of the main Khmer Rouge leaders, who were responsible for the genocide. Some 40 survivors, now living here in America, will be involved in testifying in that trial. This is one of the first times survivors can be participants so directly in an international court - they provide testimony and can also confront the accused. The trail is a really big deal in places like San Jose, home to one of California's largest Cambodian communities.

In a Buddhist Temple in San Jose, about a hundred Cambodian immigrants are gathering to remember the tragedy.

SOPHANY BAY: Children, our parents, our sibling, our friend, they died during the Pol Pot regime, and we do the religious ceremony to remember all the people who died in the Khmer Rouge Regime.

Sophany Bay is a leader in this community. When she finishes speaking, the temple's monks begin their chants. They hold up page after page of paper. Every sheet has several names - the names of the relatives people here lost under the Khmer Rouge.

The lucky ones only have one close relative's name to mourn - most have many more. The eldest monk takes a flame to each and the pages burn as orange as his robes. The Cambodians clasp their hands together, their eyes closed, their mouths murmuring the Buddhist blessings.

BAY: If I did not see justice, you know, it's kind of like I kind of cannot close me eyes properly when I die.

Sophany Bay, the leader, lost her three children, her father, her brother, and her sister to the regime. She was one of the first people to record her testimony for the court.

BAY: The spirit of my children, my parents, you know, ask me why I don't find justice for them.

She's not the only one to feel that way.

SANIA MEAS: I'm still stressful, hateful, and denial - everything you know. I accept that my husband was dead, but I cannot face it.

Sania Meas was a Fulbright scholar in America before the Khmer Rouge came to power. When she returned to the states less than 10 years later, she was a refugee. She had lost teeth from the beatings. Her family members had been killed.

MEAS: Pain me to death. I cannot find my husband, I cannot find my son. So I do not care the judgment day, but for the sake of my community I want justice done for them.

To deal with her trauma, Meas studied for a third Master's degree in psychology.

MEAS: I went through a lot of counseling, but it doesn't help me a damn thing. I'm still there as ever. I went to about a hundred sessions, nothing cured me.

Researchers say more than half of the Cambodian diaspora suffer from posttraumatic shock syndrome - PTSD. That's why this trial is so important to many - it might help them heal.

Standing to one side of the room is a young, non-Cambodian woman. Her name is Nushin Sarkarati, and she's watching the ceremony intently. This is the first time Sarkarati has seen many of these people in person. But she knows their stories well. Sarkarati is a part of the Center for Justice and Accountability - an organization that offers legal counsel to survivors of human rights abuses. She is a lawyer and she's here today to tell these survivors, in person, whether their testimony will be part of this historic trial.

After the ceremony and more introductions Sakarati steps to the front of the room. Everyone leans forward.

NUSHIN SARKARATI: ASRIC collected 170 different testimonies to submit to the court. Forty-one of these were submitted as civil party applications, and 30 were actually admitted as a civil party.

She's explaining that everyone here who submitted a claim to the court will have it heard. All the testimonies will be used to try the four Khmer Rouge leaders this summer.

KELVIN SO: I am so happy that this is the first time that my case have been accepted by the Phnom Penh tribunal.

Though many, like Kelvin So, are relieved, others are not convinced of the court's legitimacy and wonder why the Khmer Rouge leaders get more rights than their victims ever did.

PARTICIPANT: My question is, why this court continues to go on with the trial, after all the evidence that we have. It is clear that the Khmer Rouge killed people without taking victims to trial. They didn't ask any questions; they just killed people. So why you need to carry on with this trial at all. It seems that we've been patient, but we cannot go on waiting for the results of this trial anymore.

SARKARATI: So, in any fair court of law, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. So they are trying to make sure that these people are tried with all the rights that most defendants get in a fair court of law. This way when the judgment is issued nobody can ever contest the judgment. And say that this is an invalid judgment because the defendant didn't have all of his rights.

A handful of these Cambodian refugees will be there to testify directly to the court. Sophany Bay hopes she'll be among them.

BAY: I want to go to the court to see those killers and to ask them. I have three questions I want to ask them. One, I want to ask them, "Why you kill so many people?" Second, "You want to do that, you want to kill people, to get power or somebody behind you?" Number three, "Who stayed behind the scene?" I want to see them in court you know.

Some of these here today might finally be able to confront their torturers, tell the stories of their lost children, murdered husbands and dead relatives to the world. Kelvin So says it will be historic.

SO: I believe that this is a part of history if those leader got prosecuted and put to jail - it will be part of a big history for Cambodia. Maybe a small part of it too.

It might not cure the trauma, but confronting the truth of what happened in Cambodia is perhaps one step towards ensuring that it never happens again.

In San Jose, I'm Becky Palmstrom, for Crosscurrents.

As a Rotary World Peace fellow Becky Palmstrom has worked on a survey about what the court means to the Cambodian diaspora in America.