Vietnam, Cambodia plan new air routes

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vietnam and Cambodia are planning to open two routes linking the coastal city of Sihanoukville in Cambodia with Phu Quoc Island and Can Tho city in the south of Vietnam.

Experts said that the new air routes will help create an attractive tourism triangle, facilitating the promising service sector of the two countries.

According to Undersecretary of the State at the Secretariat of Civil Aviation of Cambodia (SSCA), Soy Sokhan, SSCA and Vietnam Airlines are conducting a feasibility study for the two new routes.

Chairman of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents Ho Vandy said both Phu Quoc island in Kien Giang province and Can Tho city are attractive tourism centres in Vietnam.

Once launched, the weekly flights will help transport a large number of foreign tourists to Cambodia, he added.

READ MORE - Vietnam, Cambodia plan new air routes

Vietnam condemns acts hindering border demarcation with Cambodia

The Vietnamese Government strongly condemned acts and statements made by Sam Rainsy, President of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) of Cambodia, who recently uprooted land markers on the Vietnam-Cambodia border, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson on October 30.

Sam Rainsy on October 25 visited the border demarcation area between Vietnam’s southern province of Long An and Svay Rieng province of Cambodia and uprooted six temporary poles that mark the position of Marker 185 and then brought them to Phnom Penh. Sam Rainsy also made statements slandering Vietnam as encroaching on the land of Cambodia through the border demarcation and marker planting.

In response to questions from the media about Vietnam’s reaction to Sam Rainsy’s acts and statements, spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga said that “ Vietnam and Cambodia are promptly conducting borderline demarcation and planting border markers. Protection of land markers and poles is the shared obligation of the two countries’ governments and people, in accordance with bilateral agreements and international law.”
What Sam Rainsy did was a perverse action, damaging common property, violating both countries’ laws, and bilateral treaties and agreements, hindering the borderline demarcating and marker planting process, she emphasised.

Sam Rainsy’s speeches slandering Vietnam were ill-informed, irresponsible and designed to incite a feud, undermining the relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia, she added.

The Vietnamese government urged the Cambodian government to take due measures to deal with sabotage acts, ensuring favourable conditions for conducting borderline demarcation and marker planting between Vietnam and Cambodia, and for the common benefit of both peoples, Nga concluded. (VNA)
READ MORE - Vietnam condemns acts hindering border demarcation with Cambodia

Construction of Cambodian bourse to begin in Dec


By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Cambodia expects to begin construction in December on its first stock exchange, a government official said, giving momentum to a long-delayed joint venture with South Korean investors.

'We expect to have the ground-breaking ceremony in December,' Mey Vann, director of the financial industry department at Cambodia's Ministry of Economy and Finance, told Reuters.

The idea of a Cambodian stockmarket has been floated since the 1990s but has struggled for traction in a country known for chronic poverty and a history of upheaval, including the Khmer Rouge 'Killing Fields'.

Cambodian authorities have partnered with private South Korean developer World City Co Ltd to build a $6 million, four-storey stock exchange on the waterfront of a new financial district, Cambodian and World City officials have said.

The area where the stock exchange will be built is flooded swampland on the edge of Boeung Kak Lake in the heart of the Phnom Penh. The end of the rainy season this month will clear the way for workers to begin building the exchange on the corner of what developers are calling Phnom Penh Boulevard.

READ MORE - Construction of Cambodian bourse to begin in Dec

Typhoon Mirinae likely to worsen Cambodia's flood problems: Oxfam

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- International aid agency Oxfam has cautioned that a new wave of rain from Typhoon Mirinae is expected to reach Cambodia on Nov. 2.

In a statement received Saturday, Oxfam said situations in communities already affected by Typhoon Ketsana and prolonged annual floods in central and northern Cambodia are likely to worsen with the effects of the new typhoon, putting already affected people further at risk.

"Typhoon Mirinae is currently on track to hit the northern Philippines island of Luzon . Although Cambodia may not be hit with the full strength of the typhoon, the country remains vulnerable due to its limited resources for preparation and response, and while the country is just beginning to recover from recent flooding," the statement said.

"Typhoon Mirinae could set back on-going emergency work and planned recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Cambodia ," said Francis Perez, Country Lead of Oxfam in Cambodia .

"The effects of the new typhoon could increase hazards in still flooded areas and cause further damage to crops and livelihoods. It may also displace communities or prolong the return of those already displaced by Typhoon Ketsana," he added.

Fearing a new threat of another typhoon, Oxfam is alerting humanitarian agencies and government authorities to help communities living in areas susceptible to flooding to be prepared by stocking on clean water and food and securing important documents.

The damage from Typhoon Ketsana runs to around 40 million U.S. dollars in Cambodia, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The storm, which killed at least 30 people, affected about 6,000 families and destroyed thousands of hectares of rice fields, and local infrastructure such as irrigation systems, roads, schools and houses.

READ MORE - Typhoon Mirinae likely to worsen Cambodia's flood problems: Oxfam

Cambodia gives big boost to military budget

By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, plans to boost defense and security spending by 23 percent next year, its budget showed on Saturday, raising the prospect of a clash with the IMF.

Cambodia plans to spend $274 million on defense and security next year, up from $223 million this year, the budget showed. The total budget for calendar 2010 was $1.97 billion, which meant the military was allocated about 14 percent of total spending.

That compares with 1.7 percent spent on agriculture, the backbone of Cambodia's economy, and 0.7 percent on water resources. About 1.7 percent was set aside for rural development.

Military spending is a sensitive topic in Cambodia because of the millions of dollars of donor money flowing into the country, largely to social programmes.

"This big budget for defense is meant for preventative measures in response to international conflicts," said government spokesman Phay Siphan.

Siphan said the spending was unrelated to tensions with neighbouring Thailand over land surrounding a 900-year-old, cliff-top Hindu temple known as Preah Vihear. Skirmishes in the border area have killed seven troops in the past year.

Thailand is challenging a U.N. decision to make the temple a world heritage site under Cambodian jurisdiction. Cambodia was awarded the temple in a 1962 international court ruling that did not determine who owns 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) next to it.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticised Cambodia last year for its military spending, leading the Cambodian government to cut back its defense budget during a debate in parliament after questioning by the IMF.

"Donors will not be happy," Ou Vireak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said of the latest military budget.

He said Prime Minister Hun Sen was likely trying to whip up nationalist support by projecting an image of a strong military at a time of heightened tension with Thailand.

"By doing so, he is turning the country effectively into a military state," he said.
READ MORE - Cambodia gives big boost to military budget

Doc: Cambodia's 'jungle woman' sick, mentally ill

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A woman dubbed the "jungle woman" after emerging naked and unable to speak from the wilds of northeastern Cambodia two years ago is sick and apparently suffering from mental illness, a doctor said Friday.

Hing Phan Sokhunthea, chief of Rattanakiri province hospital, said the woman, believed to be 28-year-old Rochom P'ngieng, was taken home Friday after four days in a hospital even though she remained weak and the cause of her nervous distress remained unclear.

She was brought from the jungle in early 2007 after being caught trying to steal food from a villager. Her case attracted international attention after a local family claimed she was their daughter, who was 8 years old when she disappeared in 1988 while herding buffalo in a remote area.

However, the relationship was never proven, and it was never established how she could have survived in the wild for 19 years. Some villagers suspected she was not Rochom P'ngieng, but someone else suffering from mental problems who had been lost in the jungle for a much briefer time.

The man who claims to be her father, Sal Lou, said Friday by telephone that the woman still does not speak any intelligible language.

He said his daughter was hospitalized Monday after she refused to eat any rice for almost a month.

"She was very sick and her condition looks worse than when she was first found," he said. "She is very skinny now."

He said he decided to take her back home after her condition didn't improve and she kept trying to run away.

The Rattanakiri doctor said a preliminary diagnosis found she suffered from a nervous condition.

"We wanted her to stay longer in the hospital, so that we could learn more about her mental state, but her father took her back home without letting us know," said Hing Phan Sokunthea.

READ MORE - Doc: Cambodia's 'jungle woman' sick, mentally ill

Cambodia: World AIDS Day HIV Campaign, 'Testing Millions,' to Again Launch During Cambodia's National Water Festival

During Last Year's 'One Million Tests' World AIDS Day 2008 Campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES and Cambodian Partners Surpassed Country's 30,000 Testing Goal by Testing 35,034

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of an ambitious global effort to test several million people for HIV in observance of the Testing Millions World AIDS Day 2009 campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES will launch its inaugural testing effort during the annual Water Festival, which marks the end of the rainy season and is the largest festival in the Cambodian calendar. The Water Festival commences Sunday, November 1st. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS group in the US which currently provides AIDS medical care and services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe, is spearheading the worldwide initiative to test millions. Last year, AHF led the successful 'One Million Tests/World AIDS Day 2008' campaign during which AHF/Cambodia CARES and its Cambodian partners surpassed their country goal of performing 30,000 tests by testing 35,034 individuals, identifying 1,112 HIV positive individuals in the process. The 2008 campaign far exceeded its goal of performing one million tests by testing 1,603,272 people and identifying 61,399 HIV positive people.

AHF/Cambodia CARES, which partners with NCHADS in operating 12 free AIDS treatment clinics throughout the country, has also taken a leadership role to coordinate and partner with other stakeholders to reach as many people as possible for the HIV testing and the Love Condom campaign. As its part of the in-country component of the global testing campaign, AHF/Cambodia CARES has committed to testing 12,000 people for HIV throughout the month of November in Cambodia, one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region that has been hardest-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"With the beginning of the Water Festival, AHF/Cambodia CARES will get an early start and launch our country's participation in the 'Testing Millions' World AIDS Day 2009 campaign. We will be testing in Phnom Penh and other provinces and link those found to be positive to a clinic for follow up care and access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment as well as the positive prevention to stop the spreading of the virus, and those who found as negative will learn about HIV prevention to keep them stay negative" said Chhim Sarath, M.D., AHF Country Director for Cambodia.

Cambodia is one of the poorest nations in Asia and also has one of the most rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. The HIV epidemic has spread beyond high-risk groups such as sex workers, male police officers, factory workers, mobile populations, injection drug users and men who have sex with men, to the general population.

The number of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers in Cambodia has increased dramatically over the last 5 years (only 12 sites in 2000 to 216 sites by the end of first quarter 2009). Of the current 216 VCT centers, 194 are supported directly by the government, while 22 are supported by non-governmental organizations.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organization. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 120,000 individuals in 22 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. Additional information is available at

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation

READ MORE - Cambodia: World AIDS Day HIV Campaign, 'Testing Millions,' to Again Launch During Cambodia's National Water Festival

Viet Tien opens first outlet in Cambodia

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mr. Nguyen Duc Giang, general director of Vietnam Garment and Textile Group and chairman of Viet Tien Company, said that the firm has chosen Caja Top Ltd. Company to be the sole distributor of Viet Tien products in Cambodia.

Various products of Viet Tien, from shirts to European-style trousers, shorts, and coats, will be sold in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Viet Tien and Caja Top also plan to expand sales of Viet Tien products in Cambodia.

Phan Van Kiet, Viet Tien deputy general director said that the company is preparing to open other outlets in Laos in November before moving into Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in future.

READ MORE - Viet Tien opens first outlet in Cambodia

Cambodia, UN mark 64th anniversary of UN Day

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government and the United Nations country team on Tuesday jointly marked the 64th anniversary of UN Day, focusing on reviewing common priorities, said a press released from UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia on Wednesday.

The discussion with Prime Minister Hun Sen and 11 UN Representatives focused on the excellent working relationship between Cambodia and the UN.

"The United Nations brings around 100 million U.S. dollars of development assistance to Cambodia each year but our support stretches beyond the dollar value of this contribution. We have a long-standing history of promoting peace and human development in Cambodia and we are extremely proud to serve the Cambodian people" expressed UN Resident Coordinator to Cambodia, Douglas Broderick.

Topics raised during the meeting included climate change, the global economic crisis, drug awareness, disaster management and Cambodia's support to international peacekeeping.

Among the highest priorities for the UN Country Team is helping Cambodia to achieve its Millennium Development Goals including improving maternal health, the goal currently requiring the most attention.

"The United Nations believes that no Cambodian woman should die giving life. We are committed to assisting the government to scale-up the quantity and quality of midwives and to improve access to emergency obstetrics care and reproductive health services as part of our joint effort to advance maternal health" Broderick assured the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister shared UN concern that the Millennium Development Goals could be endangered by the combined impacts of the global economic crisis and climate change but was grateful to the UN system for its assistance in helping compile information on the goals' progress at sub-national level.

Regarding the global economic crisis and its impact on the local economy, both sides recognized the importance of coordinating closely to maintain focus on the most vulnerable groups.

"We have been pleased by Cambodia's active response to the global economic crisis especially the attention given to social protection and the progress made towards an integrated Social Safety Net strategy. The UN will work with the government to maintain efforts in this area of social protection to ensure that as the world moves out of this crisis, the poorest people are protected from current and future economic shocks"

In closing the meeting, the Prime Minister congratulated the UN on its 64th anniversary and vowed to continue the UN Day meeting tradition.

United Nations Day (October 24) marks the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945. Cambodia joined the United Nations on 14 December 1955.

The United Nations Country Team in Cambodia consists of 23 agencies, fund and programmes operating in the country.

READ MORE - Cambodia, UN mark 64th anniversary of UN Day

Stocks slide as new home sales fall

NEW YORK — Signs of a weaker housing market gave stock investors another reason to be cautious.

Stocks fell Wednesday after the Commerce Department said new home sales dropped for the first time in five months. Sales slid 3.6 percent in September to 402,000 from 417,000 in August, well below the 440,000 analysts had forecast.

Investors also pulled back after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reduced its expectation for the nation's economic output for the July-September period. Goldman Sachs expects third-quarter gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, weaker than its earlier forecast of 3 percent.

The government's report on third-quarter GDP is due Thursday morning.

Analysts said the market's slide in the past week isn't surprising given the size of the advance in the past eight months and only mixed economic readings.

"I'm not panicked at the moment," said Manny Weintraub, president of Integre Advisors in New York. "I don't think anyone expected a super robust recovery."

In midafternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 67.34, or 0.7 percent, to 9,814.83.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell for the fourth straight day, sliding 13.88, or 1.3 percent, to 1,049.53. The Nasdaq composite index fell 40.40, or 1.9 percent, to 2,075.69.

In another sign of lingering troubles in the financial industry, GMAC Financial Services is in talks with the Treasury Department for a third bailout. The auto and mortgage lender has been among the hardest hit financial firms by rising loan defaults and troubled credit markets. The government already holds a 35 percent stake in GMAC after giving it $12.5 billion in bailout money.

Stocks struggled Tuesday after a disappointing report on consumer confidence stirred worries about the strength of the coming holiday shopping period. Corporate profits have been improving but investors are still waiting for a rebound in sales.

Stocks have been falling most days since hitting their highest levels in a year at the start of last week. A strengthening dollar and falling commodities prices have at times weighed on stocks.

The dollar rose against most other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Bond prices rose as investors sought safety from a falling stock market. That sent yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.41 percent from 3.45 percent late Tuesday.

Crude oil fell $2.08 to $77.47 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The drop in oil weighed on shares of energy companies.

Oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd. fell $2.05, or 3.2 percent, to $62.88.

Home builders fell after the report on new home sales. Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. slid 37 cents, or 8.6 percent, to $3.93. Toll Brothers Inc. fell 66 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $17.28.

The drop in new home sales follows a report from the National Association of Realtors last week that sales of existing home sales posted the biggest increase in 26 years in September as investors tried to get ahead of an expiring tax credit for first-time buyers. New home sales make up a smaller part of overall sales than sales of existing homes.

Earnings reports also touched off some worries. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s profit more than doubled in the third quarter as it cut costs and added products, but the company also said it expects operating income will fall in North America in the fourth quarter. The stock fell $3.41, or 20.4 percent, to $13.33.

Drug distributor McKesson Corp. fell $1.57, or 2.6 percent, to $58.05 after the company's fiscal second-quarter earnings fell short of analysts' expectations.

Apollo Group Inc., parent of the University of Phoenix, fell after the for-profit higher education company said the Securities and Exchange Commission had launched an informal inquiry into how it accounts for revenue. The stock fell $12.93, or 17.7 percent, to $60.04.

Five stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 975.7 million shares compared with 814.4 million shares traded at the same point Tuesday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 13.28, or 2.3 percent, to 573.71.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 2.3 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 2.5 percent, and France's CAC-40 slid 2.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.4 percent.

READ MORE - Stocks slide as new home sales fall

movies article gallery * Why Charleston could land assembly of the 787 * India smashes 354-7 in 2nd ODI vs. Australia *

A Cambodian court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of a prominent opposition lawmaker for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen in a case that critics charged was part of a pattern of intimidation against his opponents.

Judge Seng Sivutha of the Appeals Court let stand the ruling of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Mu Sochua, a member of parliament from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. He said her action had "incited to other Cambodian women to dislike" Hun Sen.

The original case against her was one of several recent legal actions taken by Hun Sen's government against its critics in the opposition and the press.

"The Court's decision confirms that there is no rule of law in Cambodia when a person dares to challenge the government," her party said in a statement.

When the case against her moved ahead in June, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said Hun Sen had "a long history of trying to muzzle Cambodia's political opposition and undermine the independence of the legal profession."

The case against Mu Sochua was filed after she attempted to sue the prime minister for remarks he made about her, and he then countersued. In August, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a 8.5 million riel ($2,000) fine to the state and 8 million riel ($1,882) in compensation to Hun Sen.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court rejected her lawsuit in June, saying it was groundless, but moved ahead with the prime minister's countersuit.

Cambodia's Parliament, dominated by Hun Sen's ruling coalition, then stripped the immunity from prosecution of Mu Sochua and another opposition legislator who was being sued for defamation by Hun Sen and senior military officers, allowing the case to go ahead.

In June, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia criticized the lawsuits against the lawmakers, saying they undermine the constitutional freedom of opinion and expression.

On Wednesday, Mu Sochua said that the legal proceedings were totally influenced by political manipulation, and that she would appeal to the Supreme Court.

"My trial is a political prosecution, not a real trial," she said.

READ MORE - movies article gallery * Why Charleston could land assembly of the 787 * India smashes 354-7 in 2nd ODI vs. Australia *

UPDATE: US Airways to Cut 1,000 Jobs, Focus On Hub Cities



US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) will trim 1,000 jobs, or about 3.1% of its total work force and cut flights, focusing on hub cities where it stands to make a profit.

The company said Wednesday it would concentrate on four hubs - Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia, Phoenix and the District of Columbia, as well as its hourly shuttle service between New York's LaGuardia Airport, Boston and Washington's Ronald Reagan airport.

"By focusing on our strengths and eliminating unprofitable flying we will increase the likelihood of returning US Airways to long-term profitability," Chairman and Chief Executive Doug Parker said in a statement.

The move comes after AMR Corp.'s (AMR) American Airlines said in September that it would change its route network to focus on four key hubs - Dallas/Ft. Worth, Chicago, Miami and New York - while trimming routes to smaller cities. Overall, the airline plans to increase seat capacity by just 1% in 2010.

US Airways, the result of a 2005 merger of American West Airlines and the former US Airways, said it would reduce the number of flights to Las Vegas to 36 from 64 daily departures as a result of increasing fuel prices and weak demand. It also said it would end flights at Colorado Springs, Colo., and Wichita, Kan.

Other changes announced Wednesday include the suspension of five European routes: to London Gatwick; Birmingham, England; Milan, Italy; Shannon, Ireland; and Stockholm, Sweden, from US Airways' international gateway in Philadelphia. It will also give up its right to fly between Philadelphia and Beijing.

As a result of these changes, US airways will initiate systemwide job cuts during the first half of 2010. The reductions include about 600 airport passenger and ramp service jobs and about 200 pilots and about 150 flight attendants, with the shut-down of crew bases in Las Vegas and LaGuarida.

Airlines around the world have suffered from weak passenger demand, especially for business travel, and on international routes. But the declines appear to be stabilizing at many carriers, and last week, US Airways reported that its third-quarter loss narrowed. One bright spot for U.S. Airways and other carriers has been their ability to add new revenue from such things as checked bags and onboard meals, even though fare prices remain low.

Airlines have also been raising cash in recent months to bolster their balance sheets.


-By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480;

Ann Keeton contributed to this article
READ MORE - UPDATE: US Airways to Cut 1,000 Jobs, Focus On Hub Cities

Cambodian temple puzzle nearly complete

SIEM REAP, Cambodia — On a muggy afternoon in Cambodia's ancient Angkor complex, workers in hardhats hunch over the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle, painstakingly assembling sandstone blocks.

Walled-off from camera-toting tourists, they are finally close to completing an astonishing reconstruction of the fabled 11th century Baphuon Temple.

"This is not easy to plan like a construction project is," says architect Pascal Royere from the French School of Asian Studies, who is leading the rebuilding team.

Restorers dismantled Baphuon in the 1960s when it was falling apart, laying some 300,000 of its stone blocks in the grass and jungle around the site.

But before the French-led team of archaeologists could reassemble the 34-metre (112-foot) tall temple, the hardline communist Khmer Rouge swept to power in 1975.

Up to two million people died from overwork, starvation and torture as the regime tried to re-set Cambodia to "Year Zero" by eliminating reminders of its past -- including the records to put Baphuon back together.

"The archive of the numbering system (for scattered stones) was stolen and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge," Royere says.

"We had to face a kind of jigsaw puzzle without the picture how to rebuild it."

Chinese envoy Zhou Daguan, who visited the Khmer kingdom in 1226, described Baphuon as a "an exquisite site" with a bronze tower.

Baphuon was the largest monument in the Khmer empire when it was built under King Udayadityavarman II as a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Shiva.

In the kingdom which at one time spanned parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia, Baphuon's size was only eclipsed by the famed Angkor Wat temple.

"I believe that when the restoration of the temple is done, a lot of visitors will climb to see it," says Soeung Kong, deputy director general of the Apsara Authority, which oversees Cambodia's ancient temples.

"It is high, so they can have nice views of surrounding temples."

After the 1991 peace agreement to end Cambodia's civil war, French architect Jacques Dumarcay, who was in charge of Baphuon's restoration from 1964 to 1970, rushed back to the site and appointed Royere to do his old job.

Despite invaluable input from Dumarcay and others who worked on Baphuon in the 60s and 70s, reconstruction required measuring and weighing each block, as well as numerous drawings to figure out how each part fits.

When Royere began work on the project in 1993, grass and jungle had grown over most of Baphuon's blocks. He spent much of 1994 trying to figure out how to approach the complicated job.

"Each block has its own place. It can't be replaced by another one because there's no mortar between them and you will not find two blocks that have the same volume and the same dimensions."

It was first estimated Baphuon would be rebuilt by 2003 or 2004. Now Royere says it will take until the end of next year, but adds the hardest task -- stabilizing Baphuon so it doesn't collapse -- is now complete.

Recent work has focused on a 22-metre (72 foot) high pile of rubble which collapsed in 1971, covering a quarter of the monument.

"It was a kind of landslide mixed with blocks. In 2008 we started to dismantle it, taking care of each block and building a concrete retaining wall," Royere says.

"When you take one brick, you have to take care another doesn't collapse. It took double the time we thought."

Last year Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni presided over a ceremony marking the restoration of a 70-metre (230-foot) long reclining Buddha statue along one of Baphuon's walls.

Now, Royere says, his project is entering its final stage, matching parts of intricate ornamentation altered in the 16th century when stones were shifted from the top of Baphuon to build the reclining Buddha.

"Now it's the most interesting," Royere says. "We have now the picture because we worked for a long time."

READ MORE - Cambodian temple puzzle nearly complete

Madoff Trustee Advances $534 Million to Customers (Update3)

By Erik Larson

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The liquidator for Bernard Madoff’s firm approved initial repayments of $534.2 million to 1,558 victims who invested directly with the con man’s firm. Another 1,303 victims had their claims denied.

The payments are advances on the group’s allowed claims of $4.43 billion, trustee Irving Picard said today in a conference call. Verified losses from the fraud now exceed $21 billion, he said.

“We have made significant headway in recent months in processing customer claims in challenging circumstances,” said Picard, hired by the Securities Investor Protection Corp. to wind down Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. “We are handling these claims as expeditiously as possible.”

About 16,000 have been filed since Madoff’s Dec. 11 arrest for running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, Picard said. The sum includes more than 11,000 indirect claims from investors whose money went to Madoff through third-party entities, such as hedge funds.

Picard’s team has recovered about $1.4 billion in assets to repay victims, and filed so-called clawback lawsuits seeking the return of about $15 billion in fake profit from Madoff’s biggest investors and beneficiaries. More suits will be filed, he said. Victims with allowed claims will receive a share of the money Picard recovers.

$21.2 Billion Loss

Picard’s method for calculating claims, using cash deposits minus withdrawals, triggered objections in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Many victims want years’ worth of fake profit included in their claims. A judge will decide if his methodology is correct at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 2.

Madoff’s fraud resulted in an actual loss of $21.2 billion for 2,335 accounts, Picard said. The previous number of about $13 billion came from records in the criminal case in June and applied to fewer accounts, he said. The figure could rise as more data is uncovered.

Over the life of Madoff’s New York-based company, there were about 8,000 accounts, of which about 4,900 were active when the fraud collapsed, Picard said. More than 2,500 customers took more money than they deposited and may be sued, he said.

Review Accounts

“Over the next six to nine months, we’re going to be taking a very close look at those accounts on an individual basis,” Picard said. “We’re not going to be suing people who don’t have money.”

Picard’s team had reviewed claims as far back as 1983, and plans to review accounts from the 1970s by analyzing Madoff records on microfilm and microfiche, he said.

Madoff, 71, pleaded guilty to the fraud and is serving a 150-year sentence.

The bankruptcy case is already bigger than all 321 SIPC liquidations performed since 1970, when Congress passed the law that creating the entity, SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said. SIPC is funded by the brokerage industry.

The case is Securities Investor Protection Corp. v. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, 08-01789, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

READ MORE - Madoff Trustee Advances $534 Million to Customers (Update3)