HTC HD Mini review

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Does a smaller HD2 make more Sense?

The HTC Legend and HTC Desire handsets may well have stolen the show at Mobile World Congress in February, but there was a third phone unleashed by the prolific Taiwanese in Barcelona and, despite it's smaller stature, should not be overlooked.

The HTC HD Mini added to the company's collection of blockbusting blowers unleashed back in February and is, when it comes down to brass tax, the younger brother of the Windows Mobile-packing HTC HD2, which impressed at the back end of last year.

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More on HTC:

- See the HTC Desire's position in T3's Hot 100 gadgets

- HTC HD2 Review | Hands-on video

- HTC Legend review

- T3 App Chart brings you the best apps for your HTC Android phone

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Billed by T3 as "the only handset that can make Windows Mobile work", the HD2's outstanding feature was the whopping 4.3-inch touchscreen screen, which somewhat overshadowed the more important matter of it being the first WinMo phone to utilise HTC's brilliant Sense UI.

Well, the HD Mini might have parred-down the screen to a more pocket-friendly 3.2-inches, but the WinMo 6.5.3 operating system remains in place. The HTC Sense UI, first seen on the HTC Hero, also retains its place on the Mini with a few new tweaks inuding live weather effects on the homescreen.

We had but a brief few minutes to shoot the handset following HTC's Barcelona press conference. So check out our hands-on video while we chase a full review that we'll bring to you asap.

READ MORE - HTC HD Mini review

Cambodia-US relations: Has the ghost of the 1970 coup returned?

Op-Ed by Khmerization
2nd April 2010

“I can sense the ghost of the 1970 coup d’etat returns, sooner or later, if Hun Sen’s recalcitrance and his anti-American policy still persists.”


The US decision to cancel a delivery of its military aid to the present Cambodian government seems like a déjà vu and reminiscent of the US sour relations with Sihanouk’s Sangkum Reastr Niyum government in the 1950s and 60s. The then United States government wanted Cambodia to adopt a US-friendly policy in exchange for economic and military aid. Sihanouk rejected America’s overtures and instead opted for China’s aid. Sihanouk’s rejection of American aid led to the deterioration of relations between the two countries which then led the US government to cut off all aid in the late 1960s. The cut of aid by America and Sihanouk’s acceptance of aid from China had culminated into a strain in the relations between the two countries which had precipitously led to the US orchestrating a coup against Sihanouk in 1970.

By the same token, Hun Sen’s toying with China and his present anti-American attitude could be a premonition and recipe for the repeat of the 1970 event. The then US Administration had used Defence Minister and Prime Minister Lon Nol to turn against Sihanouk and then induced a coup d’etat to topple him. America could now do the same with Hun Sen by using some of his closest lieutenants to topple him.

Hun Sen is now repeating Sihanouk’s fatal mistake by playing a dangerous game with America. Another US-induced coup d’etat might be hatched sooner or later should Hun Sen choose to ignore America and continue to irritate America with his cosy relations with China. Hun Sen, like Sihanouk, had been duped and hypnotised to believe that China is Cambodia’s only saviour. Like Sihanouk, he is of the view that only China could help Cambodia to counter America’s bully and that Cambodia could use China’s political and military leverage to protect itself from the Vietnamese expansionism and hegemony. Sihanouk’s gamble and miscalculations had cost Cambodia irreparable destruction and the loss of nearly 2 million of innocent Cambodian lives. Hun Sen’s present gamble and miscalculations could likewise lead to another calamity and disastrous consequence for Cambodia and the Cambodian people.

I am of the opinion that Hun Sen’s policy of playing off one superpower against another is dangerous for Cambodia. Cambodia’s intimate relations with only China is neither good for Cambodia nor the Cambodian people in the long run, but is dangerous. I am of the view that good relations with all the superpowers, especially America, are in the best interests of Cambodia. Good and smooth relations with America will ensure an enduring democracy, security and long lasting economic prosperity which have been proven in other countries that have accepted American aids and political guidance like Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel and the Philippines. Good relations with China, as seen in Cambodia in the 1950s and 60s, will only bring short term security, political stability and economic prosperity, but will face misery and destruction like in the 1970s when Cambodia was led by China’s proxy- the Khmer Rouge regime. Today, China’s massive investments had been pouring in in exchange for big concessions such as forestry concessions, farmland concessions, mining and hydroelectric dam-building concessions. Most of these concessions will cause disastrous and irreparable environmental damage to Cambodia and, without a doubt, they will generate big benefits and high returns for China in the future. As such, the notion that Chinese aids are unconditional and without a tie is a myth and misconception.

On the other hand, the US aids are mostly conditional on Cambodia improving democracy, human rights and institutional reforms, which will only benefit Cambodia and the Cambodian people. Most of the countries that received American aids, like Israel, Turkey, Thailand and the Philippines, have never had any problems with American conditions because governments of these countries are democratically elected and their human rights records are acceptable to the United States subsequent governments. Cambodia under Mr. Hun Sen cannot accept American conditions because it is corruption-prone, incompetent and its human rights records are appalling and therefore cannot be made comparable to these countries in any sense.

I can sense the ghost of the 1970 coup d’etat returns, sooner or later, if Hun Sen’s recalcitrance and his anti-American policy still persists.
READ MORE - Cambodia-US relations: Has the ghost of the 1970 coup returned?

Vietnam students lured into Cambodian gambling trap


4/3/2010
Thanh Nien News (Hanoi)

Police in the southern province of Binh Duong are investigating accusations that a criminal gang has been luring local youths to casinos in Cambodia to kidnap them and demand ransoms.

Bo Thi Thay, vice principal of Lai Uyen High School in Ben Cat District, said at least five ninth-graders and one eleventh-grader from the school had been trapped in Cambodia.

Binh Duong residents have reported to police that a group of locals had been visiting villages and luring students to join them on trips to Cambodian casinos, where the students were then lent large amounts of money to play.

After the students lose the money and can’t pay the debts, those who lured them to the casinos then call the youths’ parents and demand that they bring money to Cambodia to pay the debts before the kids are released, according to local reports.

One of the students, who wished to be known only as H.A.T, said he and three of his friends went to Cambodia by taxi on March 4 after they were invited by a man named Cu, who often boasted about his gambling trips to Cambodia.

According to the ninth-grader, they set out at around 9 p.m. on that day after lying to their families that they went out for a walk.

After nearly two hours they arrived at Moc Bai Border Gate in Tay Ninh Province, where a group of motorbike taxi drivers took them through a forest to Cambodia, he said.

Arriving in Cambodia, the students received “very warm welcome” with good meals and accommodation, he said, adding that a man later lent him US$2,000 and one of his friends $3,000, while the other two students just watched.

T. said at first he won over $1,500 but very soon he and his friend lost and ended up debtors.

Nguyen Van Thu, father of one of T’s friends, said on March 5 a man named Phong called him, informing that his son was indebted to a casino. Phong demanded that the father pay off the debt in return for his son’s freedom.

According to the father, everything seemed to be planned with the arrangement of motorbike taxi drivers who drove him and his younger brother to Cambodia with VND90 million ($4,735) to pay the debt.

“On the way, they [the drivers] were very careful. Sometimes they received calls from somebody, after which they would hide us and themselves for a few minutes before continuing,” Thu said, adding they also received warm welcomes with generous meals when they arrived in Cambodia.

T’s mother, Nguyen Thi Nhon, reported the same details.

According to Vuong Tan Phuong, head of Lai Uyen Commune police in Cat Lai, inspectors were investigating certain people suspected of luring students in into gambling traps. They were also cooperating with several local agencies to warn people of such tricks.
READ MORE - Vietnam students lured into Cambodian gambling trap

Weird News: Brian Blessed in your GPS and more


It may be April 1st but, inconceivably, all these articles are really real.

Modded t-shirt lets you know when you have unread emails

If you're a tech obsessed fashionista then check out this prime example of gadget and fashion hackery; a t shirt that connects, wirelessly, to your phone and displays how many email you've yet to peruse.

Brian Blessed GPS petition

Ozzy Osbourne and John Cleese and now Brian Blessed might be headed to bellow directions from your TomTom. TomTom have confirmed that if the petition reaches 25,000 members they'll start negotiations with the star of such classics as Flash Gordon and... erm... Flash Gordon.

iPad skin gives the Apple device a little Star Trek charm

The dreams of both gadget geeks and red shirted Trekies have been fulfilled; the iPad skinned to look like a Star Trek PADD. Now you too can have a "Captain's Log".

Netbook with folding keyboard

It's an overtly utopian design, but aren't all technology concepts? They make you all misty eyed for the technology of the future, like a slimline netbook with a folding, full-size keyboard.

Music video gives you 3D minus the glasses

Lets be honest, most of us will have to wait quite a while before we get to experience 3D outside of the cinema but this video, using a technique known as wiggle stereoscopy, gives you the illusion of 3D, minus the giant blue cat people and the three grand price tag.

iPhoneHD mock-up is impressive. Hopefully Apple is watching

We've got mock-ups on the mind today, as this delightful piece of concept art for the fabled iPhoneHD demonstrates. And just like all the iPhone concepts that graced the web before prior to its unveiling, it'll probably look nothing like this. Darn it.

How to spot a hidden iPad

Based on a pamphlet on spotting hidden handguns; a handy guide to spot who has an iPad on their person, so you can plead with them to use it... and then run away with it.

Amazon hates your hard drives

Might want to skip on ordering that 2TB hard drive you've been eyeing on Amazon, at least until they fix their packaging, as several customers have found their hard drives shipped with little, or no, protection and dead on arrival.

Massive product defects we seem let fly

Gadgets are great, except when their not and then they rapidly become the source (and recipient) of your ire, especially when these faults are built-in and there's nothing we can do, but just put up with them.

iCash - the iPhone card reader

By turning the iPhone into an on the go card reader it opens up a world of possibilities and monstrous credit card bills.

READ MORE - Weird News: Brian Blessed in your GPS and more

Vietnam students lured into Cambodian gambling trap

4/3/2010
Thanh Nien News (Hanoi)

Police in the southern province of Binh Duong are investigating accusations that a criminal gang has been luring local youths to casinos in Cambodia to kidnap them and demand ransoms.

Bo Thi Thay, vice principal of Lai Uyen High School in Ben Cat District, said at least five ninth-graders and one eleventh-grader from the school had been trapped in Cambodia.

Binh Duong residents have reported to police that a group of locals had been visiting villages and luring students to join them on trips to Cambodian casinos, where the students were then lent large amounts of money to play.

After the students lose the money and can’t pay the debts, those who lured them to the casinos then call the youths’ parents and demand that they bring money to Cambodia to pay the debts before the kids are released, according to local reports.

One of the students, who wished to be known only as H.A.T, said he and three of his friends went to Cambodia by taxi on March 4 after they were invited by a man named Cu, who often boasted about his gambling trips to Cambodia.

According to the ninth-grader, they set out at around 9 p.m. on that day after lying to their families that they went out for a walk.

After nearly two hours they arrived at Moc Bai Border Gate in Tay Ninh Province, where a group of motorbike taxi drivers took them through a forest to Cambodia, he said.

Arriving in Cambodia, the students received “very warm welcome” with good meals and accommodation, he said, adding that a man later lent him US$2,000 and one of his friends $3,000, while the other two students just watched.

T. said at first he won over $1,500 but very soon he and his friend lost and ended up debtors.

Nguyen Van Thu, father of one of T’s friends, said on March 5 a man named Phong called him, informing that his son was indebted to a casino. Phong demanded that the father pay off the debt in return for his son’s freedom.

According to the father, everything seemed to be planned with the arrangement of motorbike taxi drivers who drove him and his younger brother to Cambodia with VND90 million ($4,735) to pay the debt.

“On the way, they [the drivers] were very careful. Sometimes they received calls from somebody, after which they would hide us and themselves for a few minutes before continuing,” Thu said, adding they also received warm welcomes with generous meals when they arrived in Cambodia.

T’s mother, Nguyen Thi Nhon, reported the same details.

According to Vuong Tan Phuong, head of Lai Uyen Commune police in Cat Lai, inspectors were investigating certain people suspected of luring students in into gambling traps. They were also cooperating with several local agencies to warn people of such tricks.
READ MORE - Vietnam students lured into Cambodian gambling trap

Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Grapes Are Too Green

Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at http://sacrava.blogspot.com)
READ MORE - Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Grapes Are Too Green

The iPad apps available on launch day


The iPad will certainly not be short of apps come launch.

If you’re lucky enough to have an iPad in the post, winging its way to you to enhance your Easter enjoyment, you’re probably wondering what new or revamped apps will be available for the device when you finally rip it out of the packaging and hit up the app store.

Well you’re in look as there will be no lack of apps available at launch, with over a thousand gracing the brand spanking new platform on its April 3rd release which will quickly turn into thousands, as apps make it through approval.

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The pre-approved apps available on release include the standard fare; such as Twitterific, one of many expected, Twitter clients, optimised news apps from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, for those wanting to have a little fun when launch day comes by, a glut of games will grace the iPad’s 10.1 inch screen, Flurry, an analytics company in the mobile industry, speculated that 40% of apps in development are games while major studios such as EA are making a large push onto the new platform.

Interesting additions to the app store also include the Magic Piano app, from the makers of the endlessly enjoyable Ocarina for iPhone, and Gray Wolfram Periodic table, a interactive periodic praised by Stephen Fry.

For those across the Atlantic, a Netflix app will be available free on launch day. The app, like the service itself, is only available in the United States will allow users to manage their cues and stream Netflix video on demand content.

The American broadcaster ABC, the home of shows such as Lost and Grey’s Anatomy, will have a free app allowing viewing of their entire TV line-up via Wi-Fi.

Rumours have also been circulating, ahead of the launch that Hulu is planning a video viewing app that may adopt a subscription model that could be see Hulu turning subscription-only.

Link: AppShopper (iPad app list)

READ MORE - The iPad apps available on launch day

From California to Cambodia, Fighting for Women

“When I hit San Francisco I knew that was my city. I began to shine. I let my hair grow. I looked like a hippie.” Mu Sochua
(Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times)

April 2, 2010

By SETH MYDANS
The New York Times
MAK PRAING, Cambodia


IT was at Berkeley in the 1970s that Mu Sochua, a shy teenager fleeing a war in Cambodia, learned the thrill of speaking her mind.

The daughter of a well-to-do merchant in Phnom Penh, she had been sent to the West at the age of 18 to study and to be safe from the fighting that later brought the brutal Khmer Rouge regime to power.

“When I hit San Francisco I knew that was my city,” said Ms. Mu Sochua, who is now 55. “I began to shine. I let my hair grow. I looked like a hippie.” She learned English, she said, by listening to the Beatles.

She earned a master’s degree in social work from Berkeley and transformed herself enthusiastically from a demure traditional Cambodian woman to one who knew her rights and was not shy about demanding them.

That is her problem today as the most prominent female member of Parliament, a leader of the country’s struggling political opposition and a campaigner for women’s rights in a society where women are still expected to walk and speak with a becoming deference.

“I have to be careful not to push things too far,” she said in a recent interview on the campaign trail here in southern Cambodia. “I have to be very, very careful about what I bring from the West, to promote women’s rights within the context of a society that is led by men,” she said.

“In the Cambodian context, it’s women’s lib. It’s feminism. It’s challenging the culture, challenging the men.”

She has this in mind as she campaigns through the villages of Kandal Province, a woman with power but a woman nonetheless. “I walk into a cafe and I have to think twice, how to be polite to the men,” she said. “I have to ask if I can enter. This is their turf.”

Ms. Mu Sochua is a member of a new generation of female leaders who are working their way into the political systems of countries across Asia and elsewhere, from local councils to national assemblies and cabinet positions.

A former minister of women’s affairs, she did as much as anybody to put women’s issues on the agenda of a nation emerging in the 1990s from decades of war and mass killings.

During six years as minister, Ms. Mu Sochua campaigned against child abuse, marital rape, violence against women, human trafficking and the exploitation of female workers. She helped draft the country’s Prevention of Domestic Violence law.

In part because of her work, she said, “People are aware about gender. It’s a new Cambodian word: ‘gen-de.’ People are aware that women have rights.”

But she lost her public platform in 2004 when she broke with the government and joined the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, and she is finding it as difficult now to promote her ideas as to gain attention as a candidate.

LIKE dissidents and opposition figures in many countries, she has found herself with a new burden, battling for her own rights. As she has risen in prominence, her political stands have become more of a political liability than her gender.

Most recently, she has been caught in a bizarre tit-for-tat exchange of defamation suits with the country’s domineering prime minister, Hun Sen, in which, to nobody’s surprise, she was the loser.

It started last April here in Kampot Province when Mr. Hun Sen referred to her with the phrase “cheung klang,” or “strong legs,” an insulting term for a woman in Cambodia.

She sued him for defamation; he stripped her of her parliamentary immunity and sued her back. Her suit was dismissed in the politically docile courts. On Aug. 4 she was convicted of defaming the prime minister and fined about $4,000, which she has refused to pay.

“Now I live with the uncertainty about whether I’m going to go to jail,” she said. “I’m not going to pay the fine. Paying the fine is saying to all Cambodian women, ‘What are you worth? A man can call you anything he wants and there is nothing you can do.’ ”

Ms. Mu Sochua was still in California when the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia in 1975 and began mass killings that would take 1.7 million lives over the next four years.

“We were waiting, waiting, waiting to hear from our parents,” she said. “They told us they were on the last plane to Paris. They never made it.”

She headed for the Thai border, where refugees were fleeing by the tens of thousands, and it was there that she met her future husband, an American, when both were working in the refugee camps. They have lived together in Cambodia since 1989, where he works for the United Nations, and have three grown children living in the United States and Britain.

Ms. Mu Sochua makes frequent trips into the countryside around their villa, introducing herself to constituents who may never have seen her face. The next parliamentary election is still three years away, but she is already campaigning because she is almost entirely excluded from government-controlled newspapers and television.

She paused politely the other day at the stoop of a small open-fronted noodle shop in this riverside village, where men sat in the midday heat on red plastic chairs. She let her male assistants enter first.

She had succeeded in halting a sand-dredging project that was eroding riverbanks here, and she wanted the men to know that she had been working on their behalf. “I came here to inform you that you got a result from the government,” she told the men, showing them a legal document. “I want to inform you that you have a voice. If you see something wrong, you can stand up and speak about it.”

Asked afterward what it was like to have a woman fighting his battles, Mol Sa, 37, a fisherman, said, “She speaks up for us, so I don’t think she’s any different from a man. Maybe a different lady couldn’t do it, but she can do it because she is strong and not afraid.”

FEAR was a theme as Ms. Mu Sochua moved through the countryside here.

At another village where cracks were appearing in the sandy embankment, a widow named Pal Nas, 78, said the big dredging boats had scared her.

“I’m afraid that if I speak out they will come after me,” she said. “In the Khmer Rouge time they killed all the men. When night comes I don’t have a man to protect me. It’s more difficult if you are a woman alone.”

Mr. Hun Sen’s ruling party holds power through most of rural Cambodia, and Ms. Mu Sochua said party agents kept an eye on her as she campaigned. At one point a man on a motorbike took photographs of her and her companions with a mobile telephone, then drove away.

Later, as the sun began to set, a farmer greeted her warmly, calling out to his wife and climbing a tree to pick ripe guavas for her.

“I voted for you,” he said as he handed her the fruit. “But don’t tell anyone.”
READ MORE - From California to Cambodia, Fighting for Women

Asian Countries Blame Chinese Dams for Drought

A severe drought in Southeast Asia and southern China has caused the Mekong River to drop to a 50-year low. Here, a farmer's son sits on a drought-hit rice field in the suburbs of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, last month. (Hoang Dinh Nam, AFP / Getty Images)

Dave Thier


AOL News (April 2) -- International tensions are heightening as five provinces in Southwestern China as well as a number of countries in Southeast Asia are experiencing a crippling drought.

The drought has left 18.05 million people and 10.17 million livestock short of drinking water, according to China Daily. In an affected area that contains about 7.73 million hectares of arable land, the crisis has also led to a severe food shortage as crops go unwatered and fishing streams run dry.

Still, while Chinese officials attribute the drought to a shortage of rainfall, a group of other affected countries are more inclined to place the blame on China. Some are saying that China's construction of several dams along the Mekong River, a crucial water source for the entire region, is the reason why the crisis has escalated so severely.

According to Thailand's Bangkok Post, erratic water-level changes and ecosystem disruption in the Mekong can be traced back to the early 1990s -- around the time China completed its first dam on the river, in 1992. The author also suggests that the Manwan dam could have played a role in another drought that occurred from 1992 to 1993.

This weekend, representatives of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam will meet to discuss the drought. Some have said China's characteristic unwillingness to divulge information has hampered other countries' ability to understand the situation. According to The New York Times, a Thai representative will request "more information, more cooperation and more coordination" from China.

Rivers that flow through multiple countries are often flash points for international tension, and an editorial in The Nation suggests that it might not be the biggest country in the region that's to blame.

"For instance, a dozen new dams are planned for construction in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Who is acting as watchdog over these projects?" ask the editors. While pouring billions of yuans and man-hours into drought relief, the Chinese government has stepped up media relations to emphasize that the drought is only a natural phenomenon.

"China will never do things that harm the interests of [lower Mekong] countries," Chinese Embassy representative Yao Wen said at a forum in Bangkok, Thailand.

China is expected to defend its dams at the summit, arguing that they actually help by releasing water during the dry season and help to control floods. Vice Minister of Water Resources Liu Ning said at a press briefing that more dams, not fewer, would be the answer to guaranteeing water security.

Despite recent investment in renewable energy and other green technologies, food supply and environmental degradation have plagued the rapidly expanding country since the late '50s, when Mao Zedong's infamous "Great Leap Forward" led to a famine that some believe killed as many as 38 million people. In recent years, China has struggled with widespread desertification and water quality and air quality problems.
READ MORE - Asian Countries Blame Chinese Dams for Drought

* Home * News * Reviews * Features * Video * Shop * Competition * Search 1. Home 2. News 3. LG LD950


Passive 3D packing TV set to make three dimensions more affordable says LG.

LG is rolling out the UK’s first passive 3D TV in May. Dubbed the LG LD950, it promises to offer sharp 3D images at a cut price compared to the active 3D sets it currently touts.

Passive tech is generally regarded as being inferior to active, tickling the image using an overlaying filter to send half of an image to the left eye and the other to the right. Best of all, they can be used with cheaper polarised 3D specs, which can be picked up for less than pricey active efforts.

READ MORE - * Home * News * Reviews * Features * Video * Shop * Competition * Search 1. Home 2. News 3. LG LD950

Khmer Fragility: Khmer leaders are treading in different paths within the same wagon

Politic is not about for power and wealth, but for dignity and bright future. CPPers have to be aware that the use of Preah Vihear and Khmer Rouge as the context to appeal for political support/gain have been easily fallen into trap of Vietnamese imperialism - near future if you guys don't wake up, your dignity and bright future will be hijacked by the foreigner - you die and your young kins will be also died.

All Khmers have to wake up - CCPers have to wake up - SRPers have to wake up - all have to wake up to capitalize on bright future politics and genuine interests of Cambodia.
Op-Ed: Khmer Young

While the world has been successfully transformed, the destiny of Cambodia is still the same. During the tug of war of the Soviet vs. US cold war, Cambodian leaders chose to extremely pursue their utopia political approach. But in the current competitive world of liberal economic shift, Cambodian leaders have chosen capitalism approach on the baseless structure.

This statement is verifiable. Khmer Rouge was created by the cold war at the competition between Russia and US. As a small particle of this game, Khmer Rouge is just a small part of Vietcong led by Uncle Ho to strike against the US. Conveying the absence of deep understanding and hatred breeding inside Pol Pot and other KR top leaders, VN had full insight to use this weakness to benefit their long term political agenda: pushing Pol Pot to a degree of uncertain disorganization inside their party. This effort, Vietnam had employed both spies and infiltrated cadres; and importantly disconnected all efficient communication among Khmer Rouge cadres through a policy of evacuation. One side of assumption pinpointed to the model of revolution which concerned the cleansing of old form of society in order to build a new purer form of society. But assumption has never been convinced because in China or Russia, they have never done or succeeded this; but why in Cambodia? So the empty-city policy was one of the triumphs to dis-organize the effective structure of Pol Pot's existing ignorance. With the effective agents to weaken the structure of KR organization from inside, and the understanding of mentality of the KR; surely "Khmer Rouge is in the trap of allowing their cadres to cruelly compete with each other until millions of people perished. More than this, many educated people and national talent manpowers were targeted to purge and eventually cleansed up."

Did Pol Pot and his cadres infect by some syndromes of diseases - psychological paranoid, mental illness, or hatred ignorance? Or they were hijacked by a special group to allow them falling into that stage until they can not stand up or recover it? - Special study and research have to focus on the true motivation behind the KR regime. As evidence, at the beginning the world look at Hilter as the key spearhead of genocide, but now they found out that the person behind Hilter was the real instigator.

Regarding Hun Sen and the CPP, currently they have possessed different policy from Pol Pot: Pol Pot was dragged to the hell, but Hun Sen is dragged to the heaven by the same naga-wagon. This naga-wagon was naturalized to become current superficial Vietnam.

Liberation from once disorganizing party, Cambodian people has been manipulated by the incumbent economic booming, security and peace. But in reality, Hun Sen and his colleagues including their mouth-speakers such as Kiev Kannaridh, Kuy Kong or Phay Siphan will relentlessly attack and hit any Khmers or Khmer leaders who don't follow their way although those Khmers and Khmer leaders try to work and point at the best beneficial solutions to Cambodia. Social structure has been built by the model of dictator leadership style disguising in the name of democracy. The effort of UN has been used to manipulate Cambodian people. Freedom of expression, the balance of power, the equality and quality of life have been entirely manipulative.

What is so serious for Cambodian future is the employing and abusing of power by many top leaders inside the CPP. Those leaders might not be Cambodian and they are planning to work as the special division to transform Cambodia into Vietnam in the near future. Many grassroots arm-force especially policemen are former Vietnamese soldiers. In the future, Vietnamese people can come to live in Cambodia freely. Current situation, Vietnamese illegal immigrants can apply for Cambodian citizens, make a living and live in Cambodia freely.

We understand that some top leaders inside Cambodia have been manipulated by specialists because of their unknown circumstances, but many of them are abusing their power because they are working to destroy Cambodia. On the other hand, Sam Rainsy has not yet demonstrated good management inside his political ring. Of course, there are many capable personnels working for the SRP but this party is in need to have a strong and effective political structure. Until now, we don't see that Sam Rainsy have any talent people around him especially we don't hear any voice as advisers of Sam Rainsy to speak any particular issue. One-man show leadership is really out of date now!

Politic is not about for power and wealth, but for dignity and bright future. CPPers have to be aware that the use of Preah Vihear and Khmer Rouge as the context to appeal for political support/gain have been easily fallen into trap of Vietnamese imperialism - near future if you guys don't wake up, your dignity and bright future will be hijacked by the foreigner - you die and your young kins will be also died.

All Khmers have to wake up - CCPers have to wake up - SRPers have to wake up - all have to wake up to capitalize on bright future politics and genuine interests of Cambodia.

KY
READ MORE - Khmer Fragility: Khmer leaders are treading in different paths within the same wagon

"Sva neung Prei Chhoeu" a Poem in Khmer by Sék Serei

READ MORE - "Sva neung Prei Chhoeu" a Poem in Khmer by Sék Serei

24 hours ... with a charcoal seller - Slide Show and Video by Nicolas Axelrod (Part 2 of 2)



24 heures avec un marchand de charbon (2/2)
Uploaded by CambodgeSoir. - Up-to-the minute news videos.

02 April 2010
Cambodge Soir Hebdo
Translated from French by Luc Sâr

With his trailer filled, Seun Te, a villager from Kampong Speu, travels to the neighboring cities to sell his fuel. This is a hard job that he does not like too much, but that allows him to provide for his family's needs. The multimedia show is produced by Photographer Nicolas Axelrod.

READ MORE - 24 hours ... with a charcoal seller - Slide Show and Video by Nicolas Axelrod (Part 2 of 2)

Crunch time in corruption fight

Former Hong Kong anti-graft chief Tony Kwok Man-wai at a workshop in Phnom Penh earlier this week. (Photo Supplied)

Friday, 02 April 2010
Sebastian Strangio
The Phnom Penh Post

KEY PROVISIONS
Law on Anticorruption
  • Article 4: Exempts from prosecution any gift given “in accordance with custom or tradition”.
  • Article 11: Chairman and vice-chairman of the Anticorruption Unit (ACU) to be appointed by the prime minister.
  • Article 36: Empowers the ACU to punish “illicit enrichment”, the unexplained increase in an individual’s wealth.
  • Article 39: Any person leaking confidential information about corruption can be punished with up to five years’ jail.
  • Article 41: Complaints lodged with the ACU that lead to “useless inquiry” carry up to six months’ jail or 10 million riels in fines.
ONE month after passing its long-awaited Anticorruption Law, Cambodia is entering a make-or-break period in its fight against corruption, a veteran Hong Kong corruption fighter said this week, and the first year after the law comes into effect will be significant in determining the legislation’s ultimate success.

Under the law, set to come into effect in November, two new bodies will be tasked with fighting the Kingdom’s endemic levels of corruption: a National Anticorruption Commission (NAC), which will guide the country’s anti-graft policies, and an Anticorruption Unit (ACU), based at the Council of Ministers, which will carry out day-to-day investigations.

Tony Kwok Man-wai, the former deputy commissioner of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), said that Cambodia lies “at the crossroads” in its fight against graft.

“From my experience, it is most important that the ACU can have a good start for the first few months of this operation,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “This is a time when the public will be behind it. The government and the ACU should take advantage of the public support.”

Kwok, who served at the ICAC for 27 years and oversaw Hong Kong’s transition from a place of “womb to tomb” corruption to what he now calls one of the “cleanest societies” in Asia, said the first year of operation will be critical for both bodies.

“If they fail to get a good start, it will cause a lot of disappointment and the public will probably become even more cynical than before. It will be very difficult for the government and the ACU to get the proper amount of support they need again,” he said.

The law has already been criticised by some experts, who say it is merely a watered-down version of a draft formulated in 2006. According to a briefing paper on the new law put together by international corruption experts last month, a copy of which was obtained by the Post, changes to the 2006 draft included the removal of key provisions, resulting in an “overall narrowing effect” on the scope of the law. In particular, the briefing paper says an entire chapter – dealing with “large-scale specific actions” aimed at creating a “culture of intolerance” towards corruption – was removed from the 2006 draft.

Among its provisions, the redacted chapter called for the development of a “corruption-free personnel recruitment system for government”, as well as the development of a code of ethics for civil servants based on international standards. In addition, it called for the reform of election financing and greater transparency in public administration. It also recommended that a large-scale anticorruption education campaign be conducted in the country’s schools and universities. None of these provisions appear in the version of the law that was passed last month.

Other experts say the law contains provisions that are either too broad or too vaguely defined. Article 4 of the law bans the giving of gifts – as well as loans, fees, rewards or commissions – in exchange for favours, but exempts any gift that is given “in accordance with custom and tradition”.

Leslie Holmes, a professor of political science at the University of Melbourne who specialises in comparative corruption, said the wording of the article gives much leeway to the authorities.

“Few states now would accept the vague notion of ‘in accordance with custom or tradition’ – it’s far too obviously open to abuse,” he said.

He added that although many countries eschew the strict no-gift provisions adopted by Hong Kong’s ICAC in the 1970s, an increasing number have set explicit values for the gifts that are acceptable – permitting, for example, one US$100 gift per source per year. No defined value limits are listed in the final version of the Cambodian law.

The paper also raises concerns about what international experts perceive as weak whistle-blower protections, saying Article 13 of the law – which states that the ACU will maintain the confidentiality of its sources – is “a vague statement … not a robust protection of rights”.

The law also introduces a new offence (Article 41) that carries fines and jail terms of up to six months for “defamation or disinformation complaints on corruption lodged with the Anti-corruption Unit or judges, which lead to useless inquiry”.

Alan Doig, a corruption expert at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Bangkok, said that although such laws exist in other countries, most draw a distinction between malicious and well-intentioned reports.

“As it stands ... most reporting persons will not know where their allegations might lead [and] will be put off by such draconian sanctions,” he said by email.

Holmes described Article 41 as “much more clearly a disincentive to blow the whistle” than exists in most other countries, but added that giving whistle-blowers total anonymity could create a flood of ill-intentioned allegations. “There’s no easy solution to this one,” he said.

Officials at the Council of Ministers directed questions about the new law to Om Yentieng, chairman of the government-run Committee of Human Rights, who said he was too busy to speak Thursday. Sar Sambath, who has been appointed to sit on the ACU, could also not be reached for comment.

A matter of trust
Despite criticisms about specific articles, Kwok said the new law was sufficient to fight corruption – he described the inclusion of provisions about illicit enrichment (Article 36) as “particularly commendable” – provided it is backed up by the necessary resources and professionalism on the part of the ACU.

“Resources are clearly inadequate,” he said, noting that the 80 staff members earmarked so far for the ACU is far less than the 1,300 deployed in Hong Kong, which has half Cambodia’s population. He also said that although he was struck by the enthusiasm of the young officials he met at workshops last week, they lacked much-needed experience.

“They probably need a lot more professional training and resources,” he said, adding that best practice, based on Hong Kong’s ICAC, is for anticorruption budgets to be pegged at around 0.33 percent of the national budget. Most countries in the region, he added, devote around 0.01 percent.

The government “should demonstrate its political will by giving them a lot more resources”, he said.

Doig said it was unclear whether the new institutions would have the capacity to deal with the wide range of crimes listed in the law, from petty street crimes to high-level graft.

“Such an agency has to be a strategic decision, given the levels of resources and expertise it may consume,” he said, adding that the failure to think through priorities, sequence and timing, can “overload a new agency and certainly compromise its organisational confidence and maturity”.

Ultimately, however, Kwok said the law’s success will hinge not on specific articles but on whether the public believes in and supports the system.

“We should not be too concerned with this nitty-gritty, because the whole system is based on trust,” he said. “We should not criticise them before they’ve even started – we should give them a chance.”
READ MORE - Crunch time in corruption fight

Father searches for truth

Sam Bith (Photo: Reuters)
Chhouk Rin

April 3, 2010
SEBASTIAN STRANGIO
The Age (Australia)


Off a dusty track in Trapeang Chranieng village lies a half-finished Buddhist pagoda, its unpainted walls still exposed to the mid-afternoon sun. Like many across Cambodia, the new building - as well as a nearby shrine, built in 2007 - is dedicated to the spirits of those killed in the village while it was under the control of Khmer Rouge insurgents in the 1990s.

Now a small hamlet of thatch houses, there is little to hint at Trapeang Chranieng's tumultuous past. As a Khmer Rouge camp - part of the armed group's Phnom Voar (''Vine Mountain'') stronghold - the village was the last home of Melburnian David Wilson, Briton Mark Slater and Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet, three tourists kidnapped when Khmer Rouge troops ambushed a Sihanoukville-bound train on July 26, 1994, killing 13 Cambodians.

Despite heated negotiations with Cambodian government officials to secure their release, the three were killed in early September as Phnom Voar came under fierce attack from government troops. When soldiers finally overran the area the following month, the bludgeoned bodies of the three men were found in a shallow grave at the foot of the hill.

At one hut, a former Khmer Rouge women's cadre recalled the "handsome" foreign men who arrived at the camp in July 1994. "When they came they were afraid at first, but after they [became at ease with] me, they always spent time with me and we talked a lot, even though I didn't understand what they said," said Keo Gnov, who cooked for the hostages during their six-week stay.

Upon their arrival, she said, Wilson, Slater and Braquet did not take well to the rice-based Khmer diet, but were able to survive on potatoes, sugar cane and coconuts that she foraged for them. The 63-year-old, now bent by years of back-breaking rural labour, giggled like a young woman when recalling an incident during their first days at the camp, when the captives scandalised local villagers by showering naked in the open. The three quickly learned to wear a cotton krama.

Although the captives were confined to the camp, they were not mistreated, Keo Gnov said, and they were largely free to walk about as they pleased. But her bright eyes dimmed when she recalled the government's frequent artillery offensives on the area, when the mood of the hostages fluctuated between relative relaxation and fear for their lives.

"When the Cambodian government soldiers opened fire, they put their arms around me and we hid in the trenches together, and at night we slept together in that wooded house," she said. "I loved them as my sons, and I saw that they loved me as their mother."

Keo Gnov said she was moved out of the area as the government forces intensified their assault on Phnom Voar and heard only several months later that the hostages had been killed. "I shed many tears when I got the news that they were killed. I wanted to help in their release, but I couldn't because the area was surrounded by Khmer Rouge and government soldiers," she said.

Fifteen years after the 1994 hostage affair, the Victorian Coroner's Court is preparing to reopen its inquest into Wilson's killing - adjourned in 2007 - after the delivery of a case file by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The "secret" file is believed to include hundreds of documents and diplomatic cables detailing the Australian government's day-by-day response to the crisis.

Alastair Gaisford, who was consul at the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh at the time of the kidnappings, says the file shows Canberra had foreknowledge of the Cambodian military's planned attack against Phnom Voar beginning in August 1994, but "did nothing" to stop it.

In an article published in The Age on February 8, he described the David Wilson case as a "a total failure" of the government's hostage policy. In particular, he said that then foreign minister Gareth Evans, who enjoyed a close personal friendship with senior Cambodian officials, particularly with co-prime ministers Norodom Ranarridh and Hun Sen, ignored the embassy's advice that he should travel to Cambodia in an effort to immediately ensure a halt to the offensive. "The Australian government already knew and approved of a Cambodian government plan for full-scale attack on the hostage mountain, which would place their lives in danger, only a week later," he wrote.

Gaisford said in an interview last month that the government-led negotiations - which were successful in negotiating the three captives' release in exchange for $US150,000 cash - crumbled under the government's subsequent military offensive. As a result, he said, two agreed releases scheduled for August 19 and 26 were aborted and led directly to the killing of the hostages at dawn on September 8.

Gaisford also cited the March 31 kidnapping of US national Melissa Himes, also by Khmer Rouge troops at Phnom Vour, as an example of the positive outcome that could have been reached in Wilson's case. After her kidnapping, then US ambassador to Cambodia, Charles "Chuck" Twining, put immediate pressure on the Cambodian government not to attack the mountain, threatening a withdrawal of promised military aid if they did not comply. Following negotiations with Family Health International, the non-government organisation that had employed her, Himes was released on May 10 for one truckload of food and building supplies costing only $US5000. All this happened, Gaisford said, despite the $US50,000 ransom payment demanded by General Nuon Paet, the head of the Phnom Voar base and commander of Khmer Rouge Division 405, for Himes' release - the same amount that would be demanded for Wilson, Slater and Braquet.

Not much remains today of the Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Voar. After the stronghold was overrun in late 1994, the remaining troops turned in their weapons and descended to the surrounding plains, returning to rural life. Chamkar Bay village, set inland from the palm-swept shores of the Gulf of Thailand, is today populated with former cadres who have taken a new turn as farmers, vendors, local government officials and cultivators of the famed Kampot pepper vine. Prak Sothy, 63, a former Khmer Rouge commander who once bore the nom de guerre Chum Nuong, still retains shades of the idealistic young man who took up then Prince Norodom Sihanouk's call to join the Khmer Rouge resistance in the mid-1970s. Dressed in a baggy military shirt and torn green trousers, Prak Sothy's former leadership role has secured him a prominent place in the community. Following the arrest in 1999 of General Nuon Paet for the killing of the hostages - and the subsequent arrest of his subordinates, Colonel Chhouk Rin and General Sam Bith - he is now the highest-ranking former cadre still living in the village.

During an interview at his home in Chamkar Bay last month, Prak Sothy confirmed that the Cambodian government's three-month siege of Phnom Voar divided the local Khmer Rouge leadership and led to the sudden, unplanned killing of the three hostages. He recalled first hearing of the killings when he arrived at the camp early in the morning after returning from the front line.

His said his wife told him that Angkar, as the Khmer Rouge "organisation" was known, had taken them to "a higher level" before she heard three shots to the west of the village. Prak Sothy, now a commune councillor, said he later learned that Nuon Paet had been in favour of a ransom exchange, but that two low-level officers - whom he identified only as Vorn and Bon - were angered by the attack and decided to execute the hostages themselves. Vorn and Bon were subsequently shot on Nuon Paet's orders, he said, for having sacrificed the $150,000 ransom payments.

You Yi, another former Khmer Rouge soldier living in Chamkar Bay, agreed that the three hostages were killed as a result of the intensifying government offensive on Phnom Voar. He added, however, that a dubious middleman had also contributed to the hostages' death by grossly misrepresenting ransom demands to their Khmer Rouge captors. "They wanted to cheat the Khmer Rouge soldiers. The victims' families agreed to give us $50,000 for each of the hostages, but [the middleman] told the Khmer Rouge soldiers the figure was only $7000. When they found out the real price, with the situation destabilised by the Cambodian government attack, they were killed," he said.

Last month, lawyers for Colonel Rin, the former regimental commander in Division 405, said their client would soon seek a royal pardon for his role in the killings, on the grounds of ill health. Both men said they sympathised with Chhouk Rin, who was handed a life sentence in 2002 for leading the train ambush that netted Wilson, Slater and Braquet.

"Chhouk Rin only arrested the three of them; he did not kill them. After he joined with the government he tried to negotiate their release," said Prak Sothy. While his efforts came too late to save the hostages, Prak Sothy said Chhouk Rin should be released as a token of goodwill.

As the government in Victoria prepares to reconvene its inquest after a three-year hiatus, Peter Wilson, David's father, expressed hopes the process might finally shed light on his son's death at Phnom Voar. Wilson said he did not level all the blame at the local Khmer Rouge; instead, pointing the finger at the political machinations of the Cambodian and Australian governments. "Politically, the Australian government was not willing to go in hard enough to do something about Hun Sen."

Despite 15 years of trying to obtain documents through freedom-of-information laws, he said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was still withholding large sections of the Wilson case file. "They don't want it to come out for many reasons - some maybe are justifiable, but others could be just to protect themselves from what they failed to do."

But following a February request from the Coroner's Court for 157 pages of top-secret documents to be released by the government, he said the full story may now be told. "It's the truth that we want," Wilson said. "David and his friends could have been saved."

Sebastian Strangio is a journalist on The Phnom Penh Post.
READ MORE - Father searches for truth

Billionaire's private jet a symbol for Vietnam's emerging entrepreneurs


April 3, 2010
Bloomberg

There is still money to be made in one of Asia's fastest growing economies, write Yoolim Lee and Beth Thomas.

Nguyen Thanh Trung brings Vietnam's only privately owned plane level at 24,000 feet over the Central Highlands towns of Pleiku and Dalat before swinging right and bringing the eight-seat Beechcraft King Air 350 in for a smooth landing at Ho Chi Minh City airport.

Trung is familiar with the landscape: 35 years ago he was a Vietcong agent and fighter pilot who recalls dropping two bombs on the headquarters of the American-aligned southern regime in the city then known as Saigon, one of the last skirmishes before the end of his country's civil war.

Today Trung, 62, is on a mission that symbolises his country's transformation: he is the personal pilot for Doan Nguyen Duc, an entrepreneur who is one of Vietnam's richest men.

Duc, 46, estimates his empire, which includes the country's biggest listed property company, gave him a personal wealth of 28.4 trillion dong ($1.63 billion) at the end of last year. Trung says: ''Duc owning a private jet is very good for Vietnam's economy; it shows that Vietnamese people can also be successful like businessmen in other countries. This is a time for dynamic entrepreneurs.''

But foreign investors in Vietnam are experiencing a bumpier ride than Duc and his pilot are. Indochina Capital Advisors last year decided to liquidate a London-listed Vietnam equity fund that had lost 50 per cent of its value. In November the San Francisco-based hedge fund company Passport Capital demanded the return of uninvested cash from a fund that had bought Vietnamese and Cambodian property.

The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange's benchmark VN Index, Asia's best performer in 2006, plunged 66 per cent in 2008 as inflation followed by global recession destroyed confidence in Vietnamese investments. The index rose 57 per cent last year. It was up 2.1 per cent this year eight days ago.

Investors who have the stomach to stay in Vietnam are quietly bullish. It is possible to make money in this land of 86 million people provided you are willing to ignore the market froth, says Mark Mobius, the chairman of Templeton Asset Management, which had $24 million invested in Vietnam in February.

''Investors should see the real value of specific investments without being driven by pure sentiment,'' he says. ''The private sector continues to grow and has become more important to the development of the economy.''

That new realism follows a decade of unbridled enthusiasm for Vietnam. After the shift to a more market-oriented economy in 1986, foreign direct investment commitments in Vietnam went from zero to$60.3 billion by 2008, almost three times Vietnam's foreign exchange reserves at the end of that year.

Gross domestic product grew 7.2 per cent a year on average from 2000 to 2009, making Vietnam the fastest growing economy in Asia after China and Cambodia, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government forecasts GDP growth of 6.5 per cent this year.

''Vietnam was viewed as the final frontier of Asia,'' says Son Nam Nguyen, the managing partner of Vietnam Capital Partners. He advised global investors on more than $30 billion in financing as the former head of Citigroup Inc's investment bank in Vietnam. ''No one wanted to miss out on the next China.''

However, some investors grew tired of the roller coaster. Shareholders of the Indochina Capital Vietnam equity fund voted to shut it down in September after its net asset value had plunged to $243 million by June 30, from $500 million in March 2007.

Passport Capital, which held a 13 per cent stake in the property fund JSM Indochina Capital, won the backing of shareholders to replace three of the directors of the London-listed fund and begin the return of uninvested cash.

From its inception in June 2007 JSM Indochina, listed on London's Alternative Investment Market, had fallen 70 per cent by November 18 2008.

''Historically, because of bad experiences with inflation and currency depreciation, people are very quick to lose confidence,'' says Manu Bhaskaran, a Singapore-based partner and the head of economic research at Centennial Group Holdings, which provides advice on emerging markets.

Duc, the tycoon with the private plane, has become a symbol of Vietnam's emerging class of Western-style entrepreneurs.

When he bought the Beechcraft there was no luxury-goods tax on such purchases. He has since ordered an $18 million Embraer Legacy 500 jet from Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica that will be delivered in 2012.

This time Duc will have to pay a $5.4 million new levy on the deal.

''They had to set the tax level for private jets after I bought the jet,'' he says with a smile.

With that, Duc departs for the war-era Rex Hotel in central Ho Chi Minh City, where Vietnam's most prominent capitalist keeps a suite in the building that was used as a US military media centre during the US fight against communism.
READ MORE - Billionaire's private jet a symbol for Vietnam's emerging entrepreneurs

Collision between a Cambodia-flag cargo ship and a S.Korean fishing boat searching missing sailors

S.Korea Navy loses contact with fishing boat searching missing sailors

SEOUL, April 2 (Xinhua) -- South Korean Coast Guard lost contact late Friday with a fishing boat conducting search operation for missing sailors of a sunken warship in the Yellow Sea. The Coast Guard said it was feared sunken, according to Seoul 's Yonhap News Agency.

The Coast Guard said it received a signal of distress sent by the 100-ton fishing boat at around 20:30 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) .

A search and rescue mission was launched by the Coast Guard and the Navy immediately after receiving the distress call, but they have yet found the ship, reports said.

The ship, with 9 crew members onboard, might have sunken as the rescue group only spotted a belf of oil in the area, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard suspected that the boat "Kumyang 98" went down after it collided with a passing-by Cambodia-flag cargo ship, while returning from the search operation for 46 missing sailors of the Navy ship "Cheonan" that sank last Friday night near the South Korean island of Baekryeongdo off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula due to an unexplained explosion, reports said.

The Coast Guard and the Navy currently are pursuing the cargo ship.
READ MORE - Collision between a Cambodia-flag cargo ship and a S.Korean fishing boat searching missing sailors

Traffic Deaths Doubled in Five Years: Officials

(Photo: DAP news)

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 April 2010


Cambodia’s economy lost nearly $250 million to traffic accidents in 2009, officials said Friday, calling traffic fatalities a second “disaster” behind HIV and AIDs.

More than 1,700 people died in road accidents in 2009, a number twice as high as five years ago, Toch Chan Kosal, secretary of state for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told reporters Friday.

The number of total reported accidents last year was 21,519, killing 1,717 people and seriously injuring another 7,022, he said, releasing study figures.

Handicap International said the accidents cost Cambodia $248 million.

“The lost money is a greater amount than we had guessed, as the Cambodian government is working hard to reduce poverty,” Toch Chan Kosal said. “We have not reduced the effects of traffic accidents.”

“The number of deaths in traffic accidents continues to increase, year to year, without stopping,” he said.

Accidents were caused by vehicles traveling at high speeds and limited knowledge among drivers, Jeroen Stol, president of Handicap International, said.

Statistics suggest that accidents are getting deadlier. A joint study by Handicap International and the government found that in 2008, the number of wounded fell 17 percent, but the number of fatal accidents rose 4 percent.

However, the study also showed that the number of accidents measured per 10,000 vehicles was decreasing, from 15.1 in 2008 to 12.3 in 2009. The government has established a national policy to reduce the numbers of accidents, victims and deaths and is aiming for a target of 7 deaths per 10,000 vehicles this year.

Nearly 80 percent of head injuries belonged to motorcycle drivers, and about 90 percent of all accidents were caused by drivers violating speed limits, drunk driving or illegally passing.
READ MORE - Traffic Deaths Doubled in Five Years: Officials

Environmentalist Warns Against Mekong Dams

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington
02 April 2010


With the Mekong River experiencing its lowest water levels in decades, a Cambodian environmentalist says the country should not jump into constructing hydroelectric dams but should instead consider alternative energy.

The construction of Mekong dams in countries above Cambodia has already had an impact on Cambodians who rely on the river, Tep Bunnarith, executive director of the Cultural and Environmental Preservation Association, told “Hello VOA” Thursday.

“People are facing a lot of difficulties due to the development of the Mekong basin, mainly related to hydropower construction and diversion of water for irrigation,” he said.

Southern China is undergoing a prolonged drought that has dried up rice fields and left tens of thousands of people short of water. Meanwhile, farmers and fishermen in other Mekong countries have lashed out at China for its construction of four hydro-dams on the river.

Leaders from the Mekong basin are due to meet in Thailand the weekend to discuss the drought and other issues.

“Climate change and the construction of these dams are the main factors causing the low water levels,” Tep Bunnarith said.

A senior government official told “Hello VOA” the levels of the Mekong were part of a cycle, one that played out in 1992 and 1998, when water was at similar levels—with no dams constructed.

But the official, Sin Niny, vice chairman of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, did say that reservoirs in Laos and China had insufficient water under the drought.

“That’s why they have to use water reserved during the rainy season for hydropower generation,” Sin Niny said. “This is the reason why water flowing to the lower Mekong has decreased.”

Tep Bunnarith said that if the trend continues, it will hurt this year’s fish catch, a main source of protein for many Cambodians, especially the rural poor.

Instead, the government should consider renewable energy like solar, wind and bio-fuels to help power the many areas still off the national power grid, he said.

“We have to think: if the need for energy consumption in a local area is so big that we have to build a big dam across the river, this will affect people’s livelihood,” he said.
READ MORE - Environmentalist Warns Against Mekong Dams

Map Ta Phut progress

Temporary screening body to start soon

The government offered assurances yesterday that the suspended industrial projects at Map Ta Phut would be able to proceed by October.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also expressed confidence that a temporary independent organisation to screen the projects would be ready to start work this month.

Section 67 of the 2007 Constitution requires an independent to screen new industrial projects classified as potentially harmful to the environment and public health. Projects on the so-called harmful list must conduct environmental impact and heath impact assessments (EIA and HIA) and hold public hearings.

The premier made remark after the Stop Global Warming Association petitioned the Administrative Court to block the establishment of the temporary screening body, saying it was unconstitutional.

The non-governmental organisation said the temporary committee did not comply with Section 67 (2) because it would be established by using the authority of the Office of the Prime Minister. However, the court dismissed the petition.

The group was among those that successfully petitioned the Administrative Court to suspend 76 industrial ventures last September.

Mr Abhisit yesterday discussed progress on the Map Ta Phut legal impasse with officials of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

"Over the past months, the government has put the highest efforts into solving the problems and so far we are trying to tackle the key point, the independent body, because if we cannot establish it we cannot get investment to proceed," said Korbsak Sabhavasu, the secretary-general to the prime minister.

The temporary organisation would operate for two years or until a permanent independent organisation is set up.

Mr Korbsak said the list of harmful industries that will require EIA and HIA reports was also likely to be finalised next month. Industrialists have complained that some of those listed should be removed because they do not harm the environment of public health.

The Administrative Court last year ordered the suspension of 76 industrial projects, many belonging to large industrial companies such as the PTT Group and Siam Cement Group, because of the failure of state agencies to comply with Section 67.

Subsequent court appeals by the owners of some of the project owners have brought the number of suspended projects down to 46, including some projects that have been halted voluntarily by the decision of the companies.

Nine out of 46 projects have received court approval to complete construction. However, they would need to petition again for approval to begin operations after the construction complete.

Another 11 projects are seen as not being subject to the court orders as their EIAs were approved before the 2007 Constitution took effect. Therefore, the government and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand allowed them to go ahead without seeking court permission.

The remaining 26 projects are still seeking ways to present evidence to support their petitions to continue.

READ MORE - Map Ta Phut progress

300,000 H1N1 Vaccinations Underway

By Win Thida, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
02 April 2010


Health officials are wrapping up an initial round of vaccinations against the H1N1 virus, administering hundreds of thousands of shots in Phnom Penh and three provinces since March 24.

Officials said they expect to give out 300,000 shots in the capital and the provinces of Kandal, Kampong Cham and Kampng Chhnang.

H1N1, sometimes called swine flu, has killed six Cambodians since its onset.

The vaccinations, which began March 24, are the first portion of an estimated 1.5 million doses, provided by the French government and aimed mainly at children and pregnant women.

“The vaccinations will begin again from May to July to vaccinate people in 20 [remaining] provinces,” Sun Chan Soeun, director of the national vaccination program, said.
READ MORE - 300,000 H1N1 Vaccinations Underway

Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Man Without Borders

Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at http://sacrava.blogspot.com)
READ MORE - Sacrava's Political Cartoon: The Man Without Borders

Please crash my wedding day, Cambodians say

A Cambodian couple poses for their wedding day photo. Huge marriage celebrations with hundreds of people are normal here, and even newly arrived foreigners can find themselves attending numerous weddings. (Photo: Julie Masis)

In Cambodia, strict social norms about marriage and a high percentage of youths adds up to a lot of wedding day celebrations. They're often seen as a way to raise cash, so everyone is invited.

April 2, 2010
By Julie Masis, Correspondent
The Christian Science Monitor

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Westerners who move to Cambodia are likely to find themselves invited to more weddings than they would be back home. While traveling by motorcycle on a rural road for a half-hour on a recent Saturday afternoon, I passed at least five wedding tents. They are easy to spot – decorated with pink curtains, ribbons tied around chairs, and the names of the bride and groom engraved above the gate.

Hart Feuer, a researcher who has lived in the country for a year, says he has attended at least 15 weddings – including some with more than 1,000 guests and meals served in shifts.

Why so many weddings? It might have something to do with the fact that 64 percent of Cambodians are under the age of 30. And it is culturally unacceptable for Cambodian men and women to live together before marriage, says Rabbi Bentche Butman, who runs the Jewish Center of Cambodia. Another reason is financial. When attending a wedding, it is customary to give money – approximately $20. Because of that, hosts invite many people, and sometimes even people whom they have never met.

Un Chanta, a cook, recently invited all of the employees at her company to her daughter’s wedding – including some foreigners who had arrived in Cambodia just days before.

“It’s prestigious to have a Westerner at your wedding,” says Naomi Robinson, the managing editor of Cambodia-based magazine AsiaLIFE Guide. “And also you’re expected to give money – and if you’re a Westerner, you’re expected to give more.”

Whatever the reason, the enormous number of weddings can be a financial burden.

Phnom Penh college student Dorn Phok, whose monthly salary is $100, was invited to five weddings in February, of which he attended three, but sent money to all.

“When I get married," he says, "I want to make a big wedding to follow Khmer traditions and because everyone owes me money."
READ MORE - Please crash my wedding day, Cambodians say

Meeting on Mekong water resources kicks off in Thailand amid tight security


HUA HIN, Thailand, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The Mekong River Commission (MRC) International Conference started here on Friday under the theme of "Transboundary Water Resources Management in a Changing World."

The first Mekong River Commission Summit opens in Hua Hin, Thailand, April 2, 2010, featuring "Transboundary Water Resources Management in a Changing World". (Xinhua/Shi Xianzhen)

The conference, attended by senior officials from member countries in the Lower Mekong basin, will discuss water resources development and management on the Mekong River.

Solutions from the meeting will be forwarded to leaders of the member countries including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam in the MRC Summit, the Thai News Agency reported.

The meetings have been hosted in Thailand's central resort town of Cha Am and Hua Hin amid tight security as Major General Dithaporn Sasasamit, the spokesman of Thailand's Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said earlier that some 8,660 security men would be deployed to ensure security.

The security operations have been managed under the enforcement of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which is enforced in four sub- districts of Hua Hin district in Prachuab Khiri Khan province and two other sub-districts of Cha Am district in Petchburi province.

Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is scheduled to arrive at the meetings' venue on Friday afternoon to inspect and supervise security operations.

The MRC international conference will be held till Saturday, and after that the first MRC summit will kick off on April 4, lasting two days.

The summit is going to discuss a wide range of challenges facing the Mekong basin, including the long-term climate change.

The meetings are held as the water level in the Mekong River has recently dropped dramatically, the worst in 50 years, affecting local people.

The MRC Summit will be attended by leaders from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, including an representative from China as observer.
READ MORE - Meeting on Mekong water resources kicks off in Thailand amid tight security

Cambodia debates foreign property ownership

April 2 2010
By Elaine Moore in Phnom Penh
Financial Times


Cambodia is hoping to court international investment by relaxing laws on property ownership by foreigners in a bid to counter property prices that have fallen as much as 40 per cent in the wake of the global recession.

Cambodia’s draft law – which echoes an Indonesian move this week to review foreign ownership rules to draw investors to its property market – is currently under discussion at the National Assembly and would allow non-nationals to fully own residential apartments on the first floor and above for the first time.

The first-floor rule, which is also likely to be part of the Indonesian review, skirts sensitive political and legal issues.

The topic of land and property ownership is particularly sensitive in Cambodia where all land deeds were destroyed by the communist Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Proprietary disputes are frequent as a result.

While resorts such as Phuket and Bali remain the most popular destinations for foreigners looking to purchase a holiday home in south-east Asia, Cambodia’s lawmakers hope that deregulation will lead to increased foreign investment in the country and help to pick the Cambodian property market out of the doldrums.

Unrestricted ownership of property by foreigners is uncommon in south-east Asia. In Thailand foreigners are permitted to own a condominium as long as the total foreign ownership of the building does not exceed 49 per cent.

However, investors interested in property in countries such as Laos and Vietnam can only purchase leases. In Cambodia, foreigners can either lease property or they can choose to set up a purchasing landholding company with a national citizen in which they have a minority shareholding.

But with property prices under pressure across Asia, a number of countries have begun to consider liberalising property laws to encourage greater overseas interest.

In November 2009, Vietnam clarified its foreign investment laws, which allow non-residents to lease apartments for up to 50 years.

Edwin Vanderbruggen, director of tax advisory group DFDL Mekong, said the changes to Cambodia’s property law would make it an attractive prospect in the region.

Daniel Parkes, Cambodian manager of property advisors CB Richard Ellis, which recently opened its first Cambodian office, said that new developments along the pristine beaches of Cambodia’s so-called Indochina Riviera, including islands such as Koh Rong, could be among the beneficiaries of the law change.

The country experienced a real estate boom between 2006 and 2008, when prices in some areas of the capital city, Phnom Penh, rose tenfold. The subsequent recession pushed prices down by up to 40 per cent and the situation has now stabilised, according to Mr Sung Bonna, chief executive of Bonna Realty Group, the largest estate agent in Cambodia.

Residential property in Phnom Penh’s French colonial centre costs on average $1,600 per square metre, while prime locations fetch around $2,700 per square metre.
READ MORE - Cambodia debates foreign property ownership

Protesters swarm shopping district


Tens of thousands of red-shirt protesters blocked a major intersection in the capital's business centre on Saturday, paralysing traffic and closing shopping malls, as they continued their campaign to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to immediately dissolve the House of Representatives.

Leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) announced their mobile rally plan in the morning at Phan Fa Bridge, saying they would muster at two locations -- Ratchaprasong intersection and Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road.

The first group of protesters was dispatched to set up a stage at the intersection. A few hours later, thousands of red-shirts converged on the Ratchaprasong area, bringing business and traffic to a halt.

Police from Lumpini station tried to negotiate with the protesters, asking them to open one lane for traffic but they refused. Traffic around the intersection was totally blocked before noon.

Large shopping malls in the area closed, including Central World, Gaysorn Plaza, Big C, Siam Centre and Siam Discovery.

Pol Maj Gen Piya Utayo, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said police have received reports that the protesters would stay overnight at the Ratchaprasong intersection.

Police would continue to negotiate with the protesters and ask them to withdraw from the area because there are schools and hospitals in the vicinity.

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan said this rally coud last for three days. A House dissolution is the least the government could give the protesters, he said, adding that Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuabn had no right to try to negotiate with them to reduce the dissolution timeframe to eight months.

"We cannot let Abhisit rule the country any longer," he told the crowd. "The government has no legitimacy to rule."

The Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) estimated there were 60,000 people taking part in the red-shirt protest in the capital on Saturday, spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

He urged the protesters to listen to police and open routes for traffic and pedestrians.

Col Sansern said CAPO had no plan to crackdown on protesters, provided they remain within the law.

In the morning, a group of people who called themselves "Silent Power" gathered at Rama IX Park in Prawet to voice their opposition to the continuing protest.

They distributed stickers saying, "End the protest. We want a peaceful life." Many of them wore pink shirts and waved Thai flags.

They marched from the park to Seri Centre shopping mall and back to the park. They dispersed afterwards.

Authorities have deployed 50,000 soldiers, police and security personnel in the city to maintain law and order under the provisions of the Internal Security Act.

This photo gallery shows red-shirt protesters at Ratchaprasong intersection on Saturday.
READ MORE - Protesters swarm shopping district

"If the US gives us the equipment, we are happy. And if they won't give it to us, it is also good": Khieu Kanharith

Cambodia shrugs at US punishment over Uighurs

04/02/2010
Agence France-Presse

PHNOM PENH--The Cambodian government on Friday said it was untroubled by a US refusal to send military aid to the Southeast Asian nation as punishment for its deportation of 20 Chinese Uighurs.

The US stopped a shipment of 200 military trucks and trailers on Thursday in response to Phnom Penh's controversial December deportation of the ethnic Uighur asylum seekers to China, where they said they would face torture.

Nations and rights groups deplored Cambodia's move to expel the Uighurs, who had been labelled "criminals" by Beijing after fleeing China's far western Xinjiang region following violent clashes with the majority Han.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said his country was not concerned by the cancelled donation of surplus US military supplies, part of an American aid programme.

"If the US gives us the equipment, we are happy. And if they won't give it to us, it is also good," he told AFP.

"There will be no effect to our military work," the spokesman added, saying that the UN refugee agency had been too slow in assessing the Uighurs' claim to refugee status.

The decision to deport the Uighurs came a day ahead of a visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, during which he agreed 1.2 billion dollars in aid and loans to Cambodia with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Clashes between Xinjiang's Uighurs and China's majority Han ethnic group in July left nearly 200 dead and 1,600 injured, according to official tolls.

The US State Department in its last annual human rights report said that China was stepping up cultural and political repression against Uighurs in Xinjiang.
READ MORE - "If the US gives us the equipment, we are happy. And if they won't give it to us, it is also good": Khieu Kanharith

Cambodia bristles at US aid cut over deportations

Friday, April 02, 2010
AP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia bristled Friday at a U.S. decision to cut a small military aid program to protest the December deportation of Muslim asylum seekers to China, saying if they deserved protection the United States could have offered it.

The United States announced Thursday it had suspended the program that supplied surplus trucks and trailers. It was a response to Cambodia's deportation of the 20 Uighurs who had fled ethnic violence last year in China's far west. China accused the Uighurs of involvement in the violence.

The suspension involves about 200 vehicles supplied directly to the Cambodian military and does not affect the roughly $60 million civilian aid program to Cambodia, said U.S. Embassy spokesman John Johnson.

In statements to the U.N. refugee agency, the Uighurs said they witnessed and documented the July rioting in the Xinjiang region between their minority group and majority Han Chinese and that they feared lengthy imprisonment or even the death penalty if they were returned to China. It was China's worst ethnic violence in decades.

"These Uighurs were not real political asylum seekers," said Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith. "If they were real political asylum seekers, the United States could have granted them asylum in the U.S."

"We're happy if the United States provides us with aid, but it's their right to suspend it," he said.

China had called the group criminals and presented Cambodia with arrest warrants, the spokesman said. Cambodia said it deported the group because they had entered the country illegally.

"Cambodia couldn't refuse the request from China to deport them, because China sent us arrest warrants," Khieu Kanharith said.

China is key ally and donor to impoverished Cambodia.

Days after the deportations, China announced a $1.2 billion aid package to Cambodia. China has denied the aid was linked to politics saying it came with "no strings attached."

The group of Uighurs had made the journey from China's far west through to Vietnam and then Cambodia with the help of a network of missionary groups.

The U.S., the U.N. and several rights groups had urged Cambodia not to deport the group. Following the deportations, the U.S. said it was "deeply disturbed" and that the incident would affect Cambodia's relationship with the United States.

China has not revealed the fate of the deportees.

Overseas activist groups say Uighurs in China have been rounded up in mass detentions since the summer's violence that killed about 200 people in Xinjiang. Almost 200 people have been tried and several dozen death sentences have been handed down, although authorities haven't said how many people have been executed.
READ MORE - Cambodia bristles at US aid cut over deportations

 
 
 

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