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Iv Leng strikes again As he dominates the TOTAL Cup event in Prek Leap Commune, Iv Leng is turning a pastime into a flourishing career. PAGE


Cambodia to tap oil revenues in 2010?

April 2007

Issue: 1 • Year: 1 Price: 1,500 Riels



Khmer New Year parade in Long Beach, California is the largest of its kind in North America. It attracts tourists from all over the country, boosting the local economy and opens the holidays with a bang! PAGE

Increasing interest over oil in the Gulf of Thailand has investors crawling all over the drillsites with billions on the line. PAGE

Khmer New Year California style


Indonesian jet crashes in rice field


March 7th, a Garuda Airlines flight overshot the runway at the Yogyakarta Airport and burst into flames. 140 people were on the plane which was travelling from Jakarta. Nearly 100 passengers were able to make a spectacular escape after it crashed and exploded into flames.

Acting career gone, but dream remains Phnom Penh native Sovann Mony is out of the acting business but hopes to return to the industry in Cambodia.



Cambodian life insurance policy a reality?

As the rainy season fast approaches, Cambodia is looking forward to the celebrations of Khmer New Year this month. With the end of the harvest season comes the time for relaxation and reduced stress levels. Khmer New Year is the time for all to come together and enjoy the rewards of months of hard work. PAGE 2

In the upcoming months, life insurance policies will be available, as a final review workshop is researching the system in Seoul. PAGE



cambodia news & world report

april 2007

Credits Cambodia News & World Report is published by Meun Sothy. Editor: Ward Tipton Editor-in-Chief: Pagnawath Khun Managing Editor: Ward Tipton Assistant Editor: Jody Yurkowsky Managing Director: Channy Kieng Administrative Staff: Sok Ravy, Doung Pheng Advertising Manager: Seng Sopagna Graphic Designer: Roberto Ramos Distributor: Him Saro Reporters & Correspondents: Hem Chanthoeun [Banteay Meanchey], Daniel de Gruiter [Phnom Penh], Lang Hokleng [Phnom Penh], Meun Sothy [Phnom Penh], Roo Griffiths [Phnom Penh], Trinh Do [Australia], Patrick Johnston [Canada], Helena Ignasia [Indonesia], Simanithone Malivarn [Laos], Flor Togonon, Joel Orcena [The Philippines], Shawn Song'en Wee [Singapore], Tram Lyrattanak [South Korea], Vinai Dithajohn [Thailand], Kimhan Peou, Pagnawath Khun, Phalla Chea, Sry Ariya Hout [The United States], Chinh Nguyen [Vietnam]. Trademark and Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006, The Cambodia News & World Report, Ltd., and its related entities. All rights reserved. Use in whole or part of any article or information without prior written consent is prohibited. Office: 1AE1, Street 163, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tel: (011).50.05.50 • Tel: (012).39.69.69 •


February 2007 saw the signing by President Bush, of a congressional appropriations resolution overturning the ban on direct US funding to the Cambodian government. To be honest, although some people are questioning US motives, it is about time such a change occurred. It has been 10 years since the coup of 1997 and Cambodia is a different place nowadays. While the Cambodian society may still have problems, it is no longer the same country it was and it is time to move forward, not back. The US has committed to a funding shift in 2008 after the elections, geared towards promoting democratic institution building. It's all very well, strengthening civil society to advocate a democracy, but given the special conditions in Cambodia such as top-heavy power structures and endemic corruption, it does not really seem like NGO programs have been getting anywhere fast. How can you encourage government to build democracy without giving it some incentive to put its money where its mouth is? Direct aid gives the donor more leverage to push for its objectives, whereas focusing solely on NGOs may even have the result of irritating the state into not wanting to increase democracy at all. How often have you enjoyed being constantly harassed to do things without any reward? (Yes, I know, politics shouldn't be about reward, but get real!) However, with a background of corruption and an anti-corruption law which has been years in the making and which appears to be no closer to fruition than ever

before, it would be madness to grant completely unrestricted aid to the Cambodian government. Prime Minister Hun Sen has made promises to crack down on corruption and to punish officials involved but this will be an uphill struggle, even if the law is passed. The Cambodian people always cite corruption as one of their biggest woes but their statements are tinged with as much resignation as regret. Corruption just isn't leaving. In this climate, who would want to grant money to government institutions with no conditions attached? This is what has made it so interesting to watch the reactions to the signing of the resolution. Directly the signing, people from all walks of life revealed that they thought the Cambodian government was now free and clear to go forth and make off with money previously allocated to NGOs and to do what it wanted with it. A letter from the Cambodian US Embassy Charge d'Affaires to the Cambodia Daily soon put this straight: the arrangement would bring greater flexibility to the relationship between the two countries and enable the design of partnership programs but "at no time has the Embassy indicated that the US will provide money directly to the Cambodian government." Oh? Well, thank the heavens for that. A large portion of Cambodian society heaved a collective sigh of relief. One can only imagine that another portion is equally crestfallen as it has to cease rubbing its hands in glee and anticipation. By Roo Griffiths

HNOM PENH - As the heat increases across Southeast Asia, Cambodia starts looking forward to the New Year celebration in April. This marks a time for the population to take some time off, relax and escape from the fiery heat of the dry season. As the harvest ends, so does the toil and sweat of the farmers in the rice fields. Thus, for the farmers, the celebration holds even more meaning. Heng Sat, a farmer in Kompong Chhnang province, relates how the difficulties of his life in the field are made easier by the chance to relax. "We work so much and we sometimes don't make enough to eat but at we can feel that we are getting our reward." Layman Nou Van, currently residing at Svay Poper pagoda, also a Buddhist layman of the Royal Palace, explains that the Khmer New Year celebrations begin on April 13 or sometimes April 14, depending on the "Moha Sangkran", the ancient horoscope. According to this tradition, the angel of the New Year will replace the angel of the previous year. This year, the Year of the Dog will be replaced by the Year of the Pig. The incoming angel for the Year of the Pig is "Mohau Tarak Tevi". In fact, Khmer New Year originally fell on the first day of the first month in the lunar calendar (either November or the beginning of December). In the Angkor Era, either Suriyavaraman II or Jayavaraman VII changed the New Year to the fifth month of the lunar calendar, or April of the Gregorian calendar. 95 percent of the Khmer people are farmers, and the period from November through March is the busiest season for reaping or harvesting the crops from the rice fields. Khmer people have free time in April because there is no rain and it is very hot. Khmer farmers therefore have the time to take a vacation after they have worked hard to gather the crops from their rice fields. April seems to be the perfect time for Khmers in Cambodia to celebrate New Year. The festival itself originated in Brahmanism, a variation on Hinduism, which was the main religion of the Khmers before Buddhism arrived. Later, Buddhism became associated with the festival and even took control over all its important rites. Laos and Thailand, both primarily Buddhist countries, share the same April celebrations of the New Year. The celebration is not restricted to the countryside. Those in the

city are beginning to feel the excitement that occurs every year before the celebrations as well. "We only have two weeks more then we can go" said Phan Sothea who works at a garment factory in Kilometer 6 in Phnom Penh far from the countryside. He continued "I can't imagine going anywhere else or doing anything else." The countryside becomes the place to be. Villages quickly fill with people returning to enjoy the celebration. Games are played by adults and children. Throwing games, hitting games (some are painful!), running games and tugging games are all held. Nem Duon, a housewife and farmer in Kompong Cham says that this time of year is the happiest. "Although I don't like to play games myself I can watch my

the Khmer calendar; the end of the rice harvest and the beginning of the solar year. It is after this point that the dry season will leave before the June rains sweep in. The Khmer New Year festival has been celebrated by generations of Cambodians and the rituals carried out resound with history, tradition and nature. Nem Duon says "We are all so tired and hot but with Khmer New Year we begin to feel alive again and to feel hope for the next year's crops." According to Chea Kean, Secretary of State of the Committee for National and International Festivals, this coming Khmer New Year will be on April 14 at 12:48pm. Khmer New Year is a three-day extravaganza, with specific activities taking place on each day.

driver from Takeo province, told Cambodia News & World Report that these days, though sometimes he earns enough money and sometimes not, he will still visit his family and buy cakes and other offerings to take to the pagodas to commemorate his dead relatives at New Year. When asked if he would visit any place other than the pagodas, he replied that although he wanted to, he had no money for other luxuries. He said cheerfully that visiting his homeland was enough for him. On the second day, Vanabat, Buddhists provide charity to the less fortunate people of society and dedicate blessings to their ancestors. On the third day, the day of Loeung Sak (Tngai Leung Sak) people wash Buddha statues with perfumed water in the hope photo: PAGNAWATH KHUN

Funding the Cambodian government will not occur without conditions, nor should it

Suosdey Chhnam Thmei! Happy Khmer New Year! P

Monks always play important roles in Cambodian cultural celebrations.

family come home happy from the games. That is perfect for me." For those who only want to watch, there are also plenty of things to see. Live performances are everywhere. One favorite is Robam Troti, a ceremonial dance to cleanse homes. Part of the dance includes a deer which is symbolic of the evil in Khmer culture. It is pursued and killed by giants, peacocks, hunters and witches. The dancers and performers all wear splendid and extravagant costumes. The excitement often moves into the crowds present watching the festivities. A student from Kandal province, Chhort Buntha explains: "My uncle dances in Robam Troti. After, he will chase you and make you dance like a chicken!" However the New Year is not just an excuse for a party. It is an ancient and traditional festival marking two important events in

The first day is Moha Songkran, marking the real end of the year and the beginning of the new one. This day is reserved for welcoming in the incoming Tevada’s, or angels. Each house is cleaned thoroughly. Each home prepares its offerings for the coming Tevada’s. These offerings include drinks, fruits, betel and lime, as well as candles and incense. Members of the family will bow to Buddha three times and wash themselves in holy three times during the day, the face is washed in the morning, the chest at noon and the feet at night. It is also vital to visit the local pagoda wearing new clothes. During this time, the pagodas are packed full of beautifully dressed men and women. Phan Sothea says "I buy new clothes especially for Khmer New Year. It is so important to look fresh and new at this time of year." Chea Rattana, a motor-taxi

of good rain for the coming year. This ritual also encourages longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity. Cambodians also build mounds of sand or rice at the pagoda to represent the stupa where the Buddha's hair and diadem are buried. It is also symbolic of the merit gained by the builder. Chhort Buntha underlines the significance of this. "We know that we should all respect our parents so much for what they have done for us. At New Year we have a chance to do this, it's very important for all of us." So whether your fancy is ritual or festival, there is something at Khmer New Year for everyone. But with all the symbolic cleaning going on there is also a lot of water around. Be prepared, as another of the traditional rituals involves being drowned in water and plastered in powder, all in fun and good humor, of course! By Roo Griffiths and Pagnawath Khun

cambodia news & world report

april 2007



Black gold: Is oil the answer to Cambodia's problems or a route to increased corruption? M itsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd. (MOECO) based in Tokyo, Japan, announced that Moeco Cambodia Co., Ltd., an affiliated company of MOECO, has discovered oil in four exploration wells drilled in offshore Cambodia Block A, in which Moeco Cambodia Co., Ltd. holds a 30 percent participating interest.

Mussomeli has expressed worry that Cambodia will not be able to handle a sudden surge in national income and has emphasized that Cambodia should be transparent in its dealings with oil companies. He has suggested the creation of a petroleum law along with a freedom of information law and an anti-corruption law, all of which would support such transparency. The Ambassador also noted that Cambodia should join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, also known as EITI. This is an initiative which supports improved governance in resourcerich countries through "verification and full publication of company

Source: Idemitsu Oil & Gas Co., Ltd.

Co. Ltd. of Japan, currently possesses a 30 percent share in the joint venture. Meanwhile, 15 percent of the project is owned by LG Caltex. Moeco Cambodia Co. Ltd. has drilled four exploration wells in Block A. According to a press release, ChevronTexaco in Asia Pacific, has upstream activities in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. In Cambodia, in addition to the upstream business, ChevronTexaco has a significant and long-term investment in Cambodia in downstream marketing through its Caltex brand. Established in 1995, Caltex Cambodia Ltd., a ChevronTexaco company, currently has one terminal, three depots, 27 service stations and more than 500 personnel in Cambodia. Chevron first found crude oil in four of the five exploration wells in 2005 and says it plans to drill ten more by the end of 2007. Director General of the Autonomous Port of Sihanoukville Lou Kim Chhun who is in charge of logistic supplies for the drilling process, was recently interviewed. He says that by mid March 2007, eight wells will have been drilled and the drilling process will now be stopped so that the data can be monitored. It is claimed that these are merely to gather resource data but the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) stated at the end

Exploration of coastal oil reserves as yet has no impact on high fuel prices.

of February that the most recent test well had already produced 800 barrels of crude oil every day. The CNPA went on to state that Chevron would continue to drill each year in order to analyze data and produce a development plan. However, information on other investors was not forthcoming from the CNPA, an organization set up under the aegis of Prime Minister Hun Sen. John Watson, President of ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum, said "The preliminary results of these exploration wells are promising and they underscore the further success of our focused global exploration program. As a new exploration area for ChevronTexaco, Cambodia could offer the potential to build upon our already strong position in the Gulf of Thailand."

Keli Taureka, Managing Director of ChevronTexaco's Asia South Business Unit, added "We are very encouraged to find oil in each of the first four wells of this drilling program, especially given that prior to us acquiring this block it had been explored through nine previous wells. However, it is important to complete the drilling program and fully assess the well results to determine the potential commerciality of the finds." As "black gold" becomes such a hot topic in Cambodia, some express their concern. The United Nations Development Program has warned the government that it should adopt measures to ensure that oil exploration will be of benefit to the Cambodian population. The US Ambassador Joseph

payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining." Some 20 countries have already committed to EITI, in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. However, in February, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia expected to begin tapping offshore oil revenues around 2010. The CNPA along with Prime Minister Hun Sen responded in March to suggestions by the US Ambassador that it was too early to dictate policy. It was also said that although Cambodia had had little experience in the area of oil, it would learn from other players; more specifically, from their human resources and marketing experience. Overall, the CNPA said Cambodia was ready for the challenge of oil revenue. In response to suggestions that the increased income from oil could exacerbate corruption, which is already a huge problem in Cambodia, the Prime Minister promised that the country's health and education sectors would be among those to benefit and that revenues would be managed well. According to the World Bank, wealth arising from oil can actually retard development and poverty reduction. In a paper by the Overseas Development Institute in London, over the past 35 years, per capita incomes in countries with a dominant non-renewable resource grew two to three times more

illustration: roberto ramos

In 1996, Idemitsu participated in an international tender held by the Cambodian government. On October 30, 1997, we signed the Conditional Petroleum Contract together with Conoco Phillips and the Cambodian government for Areas I & II. Since the OCA Areas are located where the national border between Thailand and Cambodia is disputed, no exploration activities have been conducted yet. It is known to be one of the few places in the world that is untouched by advanced exploration technology. Since many oil and gas fields have already been discovered in Thailand's waters, Areas I & II are also considered to have a high probability of producing oil and gas. As we continue to support the discussions being held between the two governments, we look forward to the day when we can actually start exploration activities. Until then, we must simply wait.

photo: yin dikalenn

HNOM PENH - As Cambodia's economy continues to grow and the country becomes a greater focus for investment both regionally and globally, the attention of investors is increasingly turning to oil. Interest over recent years has arrived from the US, Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, Australia and France, among others. The government has seen a huge increase in the number of applications from oil companies to tap Cambodia's energy reserves. International research by the World Bank into the Cambodian oil reserves suggests that the country could contain as much as two billion barrels (320 billion liters) of oil along with 280 billion cubic meters of gas. Cambodia could earn up to US$6 billion in the next two decades from such reserves. Depending on world oil prices, these Cambodian reserves, with an estimated annual revenue of US$2 billion per year, would represent several times the current level of domestic revenue and overseas development assistance. This increased interest is currently spearheaded by none other than US oil giant Chevron, known as ChevronTexaco, which has spent US$100 million since 2005 drilling exploratory wells in Cambodia's offshore Block A. Block A is the first of six demarcated offshore zones. The Block A concession, covering 6,278 square kilometers with water depths averaging approximately 73 meters, is located about 120 kilometers off the coast of Cambodia. Chevron is one of the world's largest integrated energy companies and is based in San Ramon, California. According to the company's profile, it conducts business in approximately 180 countries around the world. Chevron probes every aspect of the oil and natural gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, worldwide marketing and distribution, chemicals manufacturing and sales and power generation. The company actually began with an 1879 oil discovery at Pico Canyon north of Los Angeles, a find that led to the formation of the Pacific Coast Oil Company. This company later became the Standard Oil Co. of California and later, Chevron Corporation. Another major point in the company's history was the 1901 formation of The Texas Fuel Co. in Beaumont, Texas. It later became known as The Texas Co. and, eventually, Texaco Inc. In 2001, these entities merged to form ChevronTexaco. The name was changed to Chevron in 2005 to present a more unified presence in the global marketplace. The acquisition of Unocal Corporation in 2005 strengthened Chevron's position as a global energy leader, enhancing assets in key basins around the world. Along with Chevron, Moeco Cambodia Co. Ltd, which is affiliated with the Mitsui Oil Exploration

slowly than those in resource-deficient countries. It is this that has concerned actors in NGOs and international organizations in Phnom Penh, which have suggested that oil and natural gas could reverse positive trends in poverty alleviation and transform Cambodia's economy with detrimental results, particularly given the problems of corruption that already exist within the country. Experts urge revenue planning to avoid inflation and erosion of links between the government and the people. NGOs note that if action is not taken soon the divide between the rich and the poor in Cambodia which is already wide will only increase. Environmentalists continue to express concern for the coastal environment and marine fisheries which could be threatened by human activities. Threats arise from offshore oil and gas extraction including oil spills, sanitary and domestic waste from drilling activities and production wastewater containing heavy metals, elemental sulfur and organic compounds. Meanwhile, the Cambodian Ambassador to oil-rich Brunei Darussalam, Nan Sy, has met with oil company executives there and discussions have noted the need for the two countries to work together in this venture using experience from Brunei to help with Cambodia's resource extraction. In 2006, Cambodia also signed an agreement with Thailand and Vietnam to protect the coastal environment with The Joint Statement of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam on Partnerships in Oil Spill Preparedness and Response in the Gulf of Thailand. Experts state that it is also necessary to work out an agreement between Cambodia and Thailand regarding overlapping claims to oil and gas reserves. At the same time, oil prices in Cambodia remain extremely high. The Economics Institute of Cambodia has noted that high prices in fuel including oil are dangerous for both producers and households, thereby impacting GDP and employment. The institute highlights a need for appropriate government policies on oil prices. In 2004, fuel prices were measured and found to include sixtyfive percent of all transportation costs. This figure is damaging businesses, competitiveness and domestic and foreign investment. In February this year, an oil safety and development initiative appealed to Cambodian gasoline companies to discuss ways in which it might be possible to bring the country's oil prices down. Ideas included borrowing oil from Thailand or Vietnam. There has been no further comment on such suggestions since then and this issue remains one of concern for all stakeholders. (Additional Report: Meun Sothy) By Roo Griffiths and Pagnawath Khun


cambodia news & world report

april 2007

New political party to be led by former Human Rights activist On March 11, Mr Kem Sokha, President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), announced his resignation and said that he would once again take an active role in politics. Kem Sokha was formerly MP for FUNCINPEC from 1993 to 1998 and later a FUNCINPEC senator from 1999 to 2002. He established CCHR in 2002 with the objective of promoting and protecting democracy, human rights and development. Kem Sokha will leave CCHR on May 1 to organize a new political party to take part in the 2008 elections. The new party has been rumored for some time and Kem Sokha has revealed that he has been thinking about the move for a long time. His motivation he claims is the call of the people for his active participation. According to the former senator, the current political system and parties pay little attention to democracy. The new party will concentrate more on this, with priorities including natural resources, land rights and poverty reduction. Mam Sonando of Beehive Radio, who served with Kem Sokha in jail after the clampdowns on the media in 2005, has expressed his support but says he will not take a position as a founding member. Rong Chhun, of the Cambodian Independent Teachers' Association, Kek Galabru of LICADHO, and Chea Mony of the Free Trade Union have all denied that they will play an active role in the new party. Kem Sokha claims that other activists are behind him, although he has not yet revealed their names. The ruling party has stated that it is happy for Kem Sokha's party to compete in the 2008 elections. However, analysts have noted that this move may splinter the opposition group, particularly as small political parties are often without power.

Direct flights: Korean Airlines boost arrival numbers to Cambodia P HNOM PENH - South Korea means big business in Cambodia. It doesn't matter if it is a small guesthouse, a 5-star hotel and resort, a supermarket, a duty free shop or a Korean restaurant, everything must be focused on South Korea because anything Korean is booming in Cambodia and guarantees income. With the growing Korean economy, it was only a matter of time before the flagship of Korean air travel, Korean Airlines opened up a direct flight between Incheon and Phnom Penh and Incheon and Siem Reap. On November 14, 2006 Korean Airlines made it happen and at 22:05 a Boeing 737 with 139 passengers onboard, became the first flight of Korean Airlines to land on Cambodian soil in Phnom Penh. A day later, it was Siem Reap's turn to welcome Korean Airlines' first Boeing 737 at Siem Reap International Airport. Chairman and CEO of Korean Airlines, Mr. Cho Yang-ho flew to Phnom Penh last February and met with Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Sok An in a ceremony at Le Royal Hotel. The ceremony was attended by a number of prominent people from both Korea and Cambodia and was considered to be a successful launch of a sustainable relationship between the two countries for many years to come. "Traditionally, Korean Air has focused on Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia

and Indonesia, but it is moving to East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos,'' Cho Yang-ho said. Cho Yang-Ho referred to the region of East Asia as the "Baht Economy" and was very optimistic about entering the region. "Cambodia is a country with large potential and will be the bridgehead to the East Asian market" he said. Cho Yang-Ho aimed high in his speech and revealed that it is no secret that he wants Korea Airlines to compete with the largest airlines in the world. "East Asia will be a new growth resource for the company that aims to become one of the world's top 10 carriers." The Southeast Asia region is the 2nd largest market for Korean Airlines. The largest market is from Japan. Cambodia already received many visitors from South Korea in November 2006 when South Korea's president Roh Moo Hyun launched the Angkor-Gyeongju World Expo 2006 in Siem Reap. The event of the World Expo went hand in hand with another landmark in Cambodia; the first arrival of a Boeing 747 at Phnom Penh International Airport on November 19. By 2010, the government of South Korea plans to have opened up more routes in the region, mainly focusing on Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Angkor Wat remains the main reason for many Koreans to flock into Cambodia and this is easy

to see when you stroll around the massive temple complex which is situated 7km north of Siem Reap. The history between Cambodia and South Korea can be considered fresh. In 2004 Cambodia recognized that South Korea was becoming a significant trade partner in terms of tourism and Prince Norodom Ranarith encouraged South Korea to invest in Cambodia's agriculture, industries and tourism by constructing hotels and restaurants. That year the tourism rates leaped in comparison to the year before. It did not take long before the tourism industry anticipated this current phenomenon and the first direct flight was set up in March 2005 by Asiana Airlines.

Ever since, the South Koreans have invested heavily in Cambodia and are now the primary source of tourism bringing in in 30 percent of all arrivals in 2006 to Siem Reap's International Airport. With the newly opened Incheon to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap routes by Korean Airlines this percentage is set to rise higher in 2007. Korea air will fly every Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday between Incheon and Phnom Penh and Incheon and Siem Reap. By Daniel de Gruiter

Two more shootings in Phnom Penh point further to a culture of impunity On February 23, Pov Panhapich, a 23-year-old popular singer and television host, was shot in the neck and hip as she went to school on Norodom Boulevard. She was transported to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, but is still unable to move and speak. This is not the first shooting of famous entertainers. The recent past has seen such events occur amidst rumors of high-ranking political involvement, though nothing has been proven in this regards. Robbery has been ruled out but no other information is available at this time. On February 24, 36-year-old Hy Vuthy, a leader of the Free Trade Union (FTU) in the Suntex Factory in Dangkao district, was shot gangland style from a motorbike at 5.15am on his way back from work. He died on his way to the hospital. This was the third killing of FTU representatives in just over three years. In January 2004, FTU President Chea Vichea was shot on the street. Ros Sovannareth of the FTU was killed four months later. The Suntex factory has seen at least six violent attacks in 2006 according to LICADHO, including a strike in October where police shot a female worker in the back. Hy Vuthy received death threats prior to his murder, according to his wife. The US-based Workers Rights Commission investigated Suntex before the murder, finding violent intimidation of FTU officials and has deemed the murder of Hy Vuthy unacceptable. The Khmer Actress Association has issued similar statements regarding the shooting of Pov Panhapich. The UN in 2004 gave the government a list of 178 unsolved killings of this type. Although the cases in February were different in some aspects, there is still grave concern over these actions and the impunity with which it appears they were carried out.

US lifts restriction on direct aid to Cambodia, though benefits are not yet clear PHNOM PENH - On February 22, 2007, under the terms of the 2007 budget resolution, the US government lifted its prohibition on giving money directly to the Cambodian government in a congressional appropriations resolution signed by President George W Bush. The resolution "contains no restrictions on direct US government funding of Cambodian government activities." The 10-year-old restriction was put in place as a result of a ban made after the then-Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, ousted then-First Prime Minister Norodom Rannariddh in 1997. Over the past decade aid has been channeled to

Cambodia only by means of nongovernmental organizations. The intention here is to work towards normalization of relations between Cambodia and the US. There have been negotiations in the past but with several exceptions to the ruling over the past decade including health and education. The new arrangement has been welcomed by both countries. Cambodian officials said that they had not yet received clear details of what the agreement would entail but were happy to hear of the overturn of the ban. On March 6, 2007 the Cambodian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hor Namhong, was

interviewed on CTN TV. He stated that a relationship between the two countries was improving and that this would have a significant impact on future Cambodian growth. US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said in an interview "our hope is to have more normal relations and draw Cambodia closer to the community of nations." There appears to have been some confusion over the terms of the agreement, particularly over the first few days. Cambodian officials said that the US would cut down aid to NGOs and send it directly to the government instead. Newspaper reports revealed that

one US Embassy official stated that this meant that for the new fiscal year Cambodia would be likely to receive around US$56 million of aid from the US and that this amount would not include any restrictions on direct government assistance. However, this was later denied by the US Embassy, which went on to state that conditions would be attached to any aid channeled directly to the government. Such conditions would include implementation of transparent financial accounting and procurement integrity systems in receiving US aid according to the Country Director of the US Agency for International

Development. In addition, US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli has stated that no decisions have yet been made to change the current method of transferring aid. US funding has been slated to drop by 25 percent as a result of a realignment of global development priorities and a tight domestic budgetary environment. The US Embassy reported that, after the US 2008 elections, US assistance would shift towards developing democratic institutions, strengthening peace and security, improving health systems, and encouraging market-driven economic growth. By Lang Hokleng

education / health

april 2007

cambodia news & world report


Cambodians exercise more

By Seng Sopagna

Baktouk: The country's biggest district of its kind where English classes come thick and fast to cater for the ever-burgeoning amount of students.


HNOM PENH - Studying English in Cambodia has become a passion for many of the younger generation. Everywhere you look you can see security guards, school children and even monks with their faces buried in their "Cutting Edge" or "Headway" books. Studying English and learning it well means new and better opportunities for many. Acceptance into universities becomes easier and much better jobs are available to those that have a firm grasp of the English language. "Everybody used to study French because most academic papers were published in French. Now Cambodia is more open and papers in English are widely accessible. These papers we use in universities and a lot of classes are held in English. Studying English helps us to attend the universities and eventually helps us to find a better job" says Leng Puthivorn, a former student in Baktouk area. "We need to take care of our whole family and they give us all the support we need to study English. We all know it will benefit us in the future." he adds. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the main places to find qualified schools. While Siem Reap has a number of inexpensive private schools and many foreigners teaching private lessons, Phnom Penh has its own district with private schools and institutes. When you enter the streets around Baktouk High School you are overwhelmed with signs stating courses and prices per month. A typical course in English will cost a student around US $5 a month while computer lessons go for around US $20 a month. Not only English but also Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Korean can be studied. Another very popular course is translating newspapers

and other forms of media from Khmer to English or vice versa. The teachers in Baktouk area are usually young university students trying to make some extra money to support their studies. Foreign teachers are not to be found around here. The process of teaching is simple. As a teacher, you opt for one of the many buildings around the area that advertises classrooms for rent.

The teacher negotiates rental of a room for one month, a couple of hours every day. Depending on the amenities in the classroom the prices may vary widely. The teachers usually don't have a qualified degree. If they do you will notice that in the price of the course. Most of the teachers learn from their university teachers and practice the same style and lessons in their private classes. The students who attend classes in the Baktouk area usually do so in addition to their regular high school or university classes. Yan Veasna, a 26-year-old man who moved from Kampong Cham province 7 years ago explains. "When I left Kampong Cham to find a job in Phnom Penh, my parents were not happy. They didn't support me finding a job in Phnom Penh, but when I told them I was studying English they were very happy." Veasna studied in and around the Baktouk area over the past few years and currently works as an Englishspeaking cycling guide and English teacher in Phnom Penh, proving that knowledge does make a difference. By Daniel de Gruiter and Lang Hokleng ad

exercise and nutrition than ever before. Most of these gyms charge somewhere around five-hundred riel per session. In the evenings, badminton and football are the activities of choice in the parks across the city and even more elderly people can be seen walking briskly around the fountains. In terms of nutrition, the Cambodian diet is traditionally made up of healthy foods including many vegetables and different types of fish. However, recent years have seen the arrival of Western foods and different types of fast food which have become popular very quickly. The emerging middle classes are the most at risk. The poor people still can not afford to eat expensive, fatty foods and are also more likely to be working hard all day in the fields. One of the problems is that nutritional information is not widely available. It is difficult, particularly for poor families, to find out how to control a good and balanced diet. However, as noted, it's not the poor families who need to lose weight. Their most prominent need is for more and better food. For the most part, it is the better educated and financially stable families which are showing the most signs of obesity. Fortunately, this group also has the most readily available access to improved nutritional information. This is an important part in their battle against obesity. Exercise without changing the diet will still lead to limited weight loss but this will be slower when the diet is not improved at the same time. If you are serious about losing weight but still do not want to exercise, you will find it all the more difficult to become healthier. It would be much better if more nutritional information was made available to the general public. The Cambodian population needs a better chance of becoming healthier and happier. Scientists highlight the link between exercise and eating as a combined methodology for attacking obesity as well as the need to exercise in a 'fun way' to make the experience more sustainable. What we can see of recent trends in Cambodia certainly shows that there is growing enthusiasm towards exercise. This is encouraging and hopefully this will be backed up by useful government information campaigns to help people understand about different types of food and their health consequences.

photo: yin dikalenn

PHNOM PENH - One of the wonderful things about Cambodia is the prevalence of motorbike taxis. They take people directly to their destination quickly and cheaply. This has been a blessing in one way as Cambodian people generally do not like to walk. This was also one of the reasons for the failure of the 2003 pilot bus system in Phnom Penh. The bus stops were not close enough to people's houses and people would not walk the added distance. Conversely, it underlines a more serious problem in Cambodian society. In recent years, the lack of exercise and obesity has led to nationwide health problems including a very high diabetes rate. One study found that a quarter of all respondents had diabetes. This is an extremely high rate, even when compared with other Asian countries where diabetes is common. This has been further exacerbated by the belief that being fat is a sign of wealth and well-being - a common misconception in countries with high rates of poverty. Overweight people have an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and other illnesses. Losing weight reduces these risks substantially. The healthiest way to lose weight is not crash diets or sudden bursts of exercise. The body likes slow changes in terms of food and exercise. For example, someone who has not exercised for years should not suddenly run 10km every day. Exercise needs to be increased slowly. Similarly, those who eat a lot will experience problems if they suddenly reduce their intake. Someone who increases the amount they exercise but maintains the same diet and calorie intake will almost certainly lose weight. There is good news in Cambodia where things appear to be changing. A stroll around town in the early morning offers the chance to watch exercise classes being held. Tai Chi, aerobics, meditation and other types of exercise, are all increasing in popularity. Followers both young and old and from all walks of life are becoming more health-conscious. A few years ago it was impossible to find a gym which was accessible for ordinary people in Cambodia. The only option was a high-class, highprice gym at one of the fivestar hotels which was too costly for most people. Now, cheaper gyms are opening all around the capital, attracting young people who know more about

English: The gateway to the future of Cambodia


cambodia news & world report

april 2007

asean special report


Garuda Indonesia jet crashes in rice field

about to touch down and airport officials saw a trail of flame coming from the nose-wheel compartment. The aircraft shuddered violently as it made a hard landing, causing one of the engines and photo: getty images

OGYAKARTA, Indonesia - On March 7th, nearly 100 passengers on an Indonesian jet made a spectacular escape from the fiery plane after it crashed and exploded into a deadly inferno. Some passengers were not so lucky as more than twenty people have been confirmed dead including some foreign nationals who were on board. Most of these passengers were trapped inside the plane by fallen debris that prevented their escape. Pujobroto, chief spokesman for national carrier Garuda, said flight GA 200 was carrying 133 passengers and seven crewmembers when it crashed at the Yogyakarta Airport at around 7 am after its scheduled flight from Jakarta. Indonesia has had more than its share of transportation accidents in recent months. An Adam Air plane disappeared in January with 102 passengers and crew on board, and a ferry was sunk in late December killing hundreds of passengers. Some survivors of the Garuda crash said the aircraft was already on fire before landing and came in too fast, causing it to veer off through an airport fence. The Garuda Airlines flight finally came to rest in a nearby rice paddy. Passengers scrambled out of the plane as it came to rest in the wet rice field. Shortly after the first wave of passengers escaped with the help of airport fire and rescue, the plane exploded leaving only

The airliner, carrying 140 people, appeared to overshoot the runway before bursting into flames.

the tailfin with the Garuda logo standing eerily as mute testimony to the accident. An inquiry has been ordered by Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. There is presently an intense debate over the recent wave of transportation disasters. The President ordered the inquiry to search for any signs of mechanical failure or to discover whether or not it was simply human error. Terrorism is not

believed to have been a factor. "So far, we have not found any indication of terrorist involvement in the accident." Arsyaad Mbai, the head of the Anti-terrorism Coordinating Desk told reporters on March 8th. Alexander Downer, the Australian Foreign Minister flew to the scene of the accident and told reporters he believed human error was the cause of the disastrous crash. "Amateurish as I am on these issues, it seems pretty clear to

me it was an accident" said Downer. "The aircraft came in way too fast, was unable to stop in time and then ploughed across the end of the runway through a road, hit an embankment and a culvert, exploded and then ended up in a rice field." The Australian passengers on board included diplomatic staff members of Mr. Downer. Passengers on the hour-long, early-morning flight from Jakarta said they smelled smoke as it was

parts of the undercarriage to break off as it careened off the runway before grinding to a stop in a field. The Australian government was still uncertain at first, as to the whereabouts of one last missing Australian. That man was Allesandro Bertellotti who jumped from the blazing plane and walked to a nearby road where he caught a cab into the nearest town. Bertellotti then bought new clothes to replace his which were spattered with his

and others blood. He returned as quickly as he could to his home in Melbourne, fearing if he waited he would not have the nerve to get on another plane. Mr. Bertellotti said that normal procedures had not been followed. The announcement to prepare for landing was issued about 10 seconds before the aircraft hit the tarmac, and some of the crew was not in their seats. "We were traveling at an incredible speed," Mr. Bertellotti said. "Everyone was screaming before the landing because we knew it was too fast." Mr. Bertellotti holds a dual citizenship between Australia and Italy which may have been partially responsible for the confusion surrounding his whereabouts. Australian officials were busy searching for the tenth Australian on the flight when he had already been listed as an Italian survivor. "I went back to the airport later to tell them I was fine. I got a call from Canberra that afternoon. I told them I was fine and not to worry about me but look after the others who were hurt. I'd like to leave this experience behind. This will live with me forever, but life goes on." This has been a horrible period for the nation of Indonesia. The crash came a day after two powerful earthquakes hit the neighbouring Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing at least 70 people. By Ward Tipton and Helena Ignasia ad



april 2007

cambodia news & world report



cambodia news & world report

april 2007


Vietnam President visits to encourage trade and growth P HNOM PENH - Consolidating regional cooperation and friendship were the major focuses of a recent trip to Cambodia by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet and his delegation. The four-day visit, from February 27 to March 1, marked a significant opportunity for both sides to work towards maintaining good bilateral ties and expanding cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade and the economy. The visit was a long one by state visit standards and President Nguyen Minh Triet was able to meet with Cambodia's King Sihamoni, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen. The Vietnamese President was also a co-chair for the Cambodian-Vietnamese Business Forum along with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday, February 28. Official statistics note that Vietnam is Cambodia's thirdlargest market for exports and Cambodia is Vietnam's fourthlargest importer. The Business Forum revealed that in 2006, Cambodia imported around US $780 million of commodities

from Vietnam including clothes, electrical equipment, household products, food and spare parts. This represented an increase of around US $244 million above the figures from 2005. Based on these statistics, the Business Forum pledged to continue to strengthen bilateral ties and to develop new opportunities in economic exchange. Cambodian government officials claimed that annual trade between the two countries would grow by twenty-seven percent per year to US $2.45 billion by 2010. A trade cooperation agreement was signed which will lead to Vietnam's APHANAM Sai Gon JSC supplying electrical equipment worth approximately US $500 million, to Cambodia's Amatak Angkor Elevator Company Ltd. In addition, the Business Forum saw the signing of a sports donation agreement, whereby Vietnam will give Cambodia's National Olympic Committee products worth around US $400,000. The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce encouraged increased Vietnamese investment in Cambodia in view of the trade imbalance between the two

countries. Prime Minister Hun Sen noted the need for greater investment from Vietnam, especially in infrastructure development, agriculture and tourism. Vietnam pledged to allow 40 Cambodian agricultural products to enter the country tax free and promised greater Vietnamese investment in the country, all the while encouraging increased Cambodian investment in Vietnam as well. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce called for visa exemptions for investors traveling between the two countries. At the Business Forum there was also a discussion relating to the creation of special economic zones along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. A first step towards development of these areas was represented by the establishment of a key project including CambodianVietnamese cooperation by the Vietnamese delegation. Such an agreement would see CVI Resorts Ltd, a Malaysian company, planning a golf resort spanning the border between Cambodia and Vietnam with 50 hectares in Cambodia's Svay Rieng province and 100 hectares in Vietnam. The project is

worth US $100 million and will include a five-star hotel, a stadium, an entertainment center and a commercial area. The project was agreed upon in principle by PM Hun Sen during the Vietnamese visit and has been submitted to the Council for the Development of Cambodia for consideration. However, amidst the discussions of increased mutual friendship, some issues of concern were also addressed about Cambodia-Vietnamese relations. Continued tension was obvious from the Kampuchea Krom community which alleged repression of their community and their religion by Vietnamese officials. A Kampuchea Krom association claimed that the Vietnamese government had defrocked three Khmer Krom monks in February after saying they were ringleaders of an anti-Vietnamese protest. The association warned of major demonstrations and received support from the Sam Rainsy Party and human rights organizations. This period saw an influx of refugees into Cambodia by many Khmer Krom residents who claimed they were fleeing repression. This claim was later

refuted by the Cambodian government and the head of the Friends of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association was summoned to attend court for forging documents stating that the migrants were asylum seekers when they were in fact, entering for work purposes. On Tuesday, February 27, approximately fifty monks demonstrated in Phnom Penh, but police were said to have forced them to return to their pagodas to avoid causing problems for the Vietnamese visit. Later, on March 2 after the delegation had left, the Cambodian government allowed a protest in Meanchey district near Phnom Penh. That protest included the attendance of 300 monks. One of these monks later died in Kandal province, allegedly by suicide. Some protesters however, claimed that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. Vietnamese representatives stated clearly that there was no repression in Vietnam of Khmer Krom people and that any problems were likely to have arisen from local tensions only. Despite such problems which coincided with the state visit, Vietnamese spokespersons denied that the protest would adversely affect Cambodian-Vietnamese relations. By Roo Griffiths

Singapore - Thailand tie strong enough to overcome problems: George Yeo incident by suspending the Civil Service Exchange Programme, a bilateral program where Singaporeans and Thais participated in various courses and exchange activities to learn from one another. George Yeo also had an invitation to attend a Coordinating Meeting in Bangkok withdrawn as a result of these actions. Explaining the incident, Yeo insisted that the meeting between Jayakumar and Thaksin was simply a private social affair involving two long-time friends. He also said that Singapore had no reason to deny Thaksin entry into the country for a visit. Prior to this, Singapore informed the Thai government about the dinner as a gesture of goodwill, promising that the meeting would not be publicized. Yeo also responded to the accusations from some quarters in Thailand which claimed that the Thai military's phone conversations were being tapped by Singapore. Claims are that they were using Temasek Holding's ownership of Thai telecommunications companies to direct calls to Singapore. "It makes no technical or eco-


SINGAPORE - Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo, addressed the Parliament one week after the ASEAN Formal Ministers Retreat was held in Siem Reap on March 1 and 2. He was confident that the recent problems between Singapore and Thailand could be resolved in a rational manner. This dilemma in relations can be traced back to January of last year when Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings bought a 49.6 percent stake of Thailand's Shin Corp from Thaksin Shinawatra, who was the Thai premier during that time. The controversial sale of a national asset to a foreign corporation was greeted with public outrage against Thaksin and Singapore and ultimately led to the ousting of Thaksin during a military coup in September, 2006. Matters have not improved any this year. After it was revealed that Singapore deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar hosted Thaksin at a dinner despite protests from the Thai government, there were more protests against Singapore and its influence over domestic affairs. The Thai government reacted to this

George Yeo, Singapore Foreign Minister

nomic sense to route domestic calls within Thailand through Singapore. The Communications Authority of Thailand and the Telephone Organization of Thailand would obviously not allow such a thing to happen in any case. It would also have been absurd for Temasek (Holdings) to sully its reputation in this way." Yeo refuted. Overall, Yeo was positive about the outcome of the ASEAN retreat, and believed that the problem was not excessively serious since its cause was

Thaksin and not Singapore. "We are just being in their own domestic political conflict‌ it is good that both countries view Temasek's purchase of Shin Corp as a commercial transaction." he added. The Singapore Foreign Minister was also pleased to announce that the activities that were agreed upon under the Civil Service Exchange Program prior to the suspension are continuing to take place. Study visits to Singapore in the months ahead, are still being facilitated. Yeo

mentioned that this program has greatly benefited people from both countries, and areas of cooperation include exchanges in a wide-range of sectors such as health, education, ground transportation and information technology. When asked whether Singapore, in view of the actions of the Thai government, should respond in a like manner and cancel the exchange program and channel these funds instead to upgrading local projects, Yeo disagreed. He remarked "It is important for us to be very rational in our responses towards reactions in Thailand. They are going through a difficult patch. Our hearts are with them and we wish them well. So it is certainly not in our interests to aggravate the situation by reacting in an emotional way." In conclusion, Yeo stated that, "relations between countries, even close neighbors and partners, sometimes have their ups and downs. Our ties of friendship and cooperation with Thailand are profound and will withstand this present problem." By Shawn Wee

Prime Minister's speech against land grabbing targets CPP officials and military On March 6, during a conference in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen declared war on land grabbers, giving those whom are guilty only one week to give the land back to the state. Two days prior to this announcement, the CPP central committee authorized the Prime Minister to act alone in firing those in the CPP who are responsible for land grabbing. In particular, the Prime Minister targeted highranking members of his own party, mentioning a particular unnamed three-star general. Two days later, General Chao Phirun claimed that he was the general in question. He had bought 215 hectares of land in Kampot province in 1999, but he claims that he did not know that this act was illegal. He then returned the land to the state and no further action was taken. Land in Koh Kong and Mondulkiri provinces has also been returned by other military officials. On March 10, an RCAF colonel was arrested for land grabbing in Banteay Meanchey province. Colonel Te Haing, a CPP official, prominent businessman and border protection officer, owned 400 hectares of a total of 1,700 hectares which is in the possession of a consortium. The land was confiscated in May 2006, but the official continued to use it even after this time. The colonel's wife has proclaimed his innocence saying that he bought it without knowing the act was illegal. She has claimed that provincial authorities continued to allow him to use the land before his arrest. The Prime Minister has recently underlined that the priority areas of concern in Cambodia at the current time are gangs, drugs and land. However, critics claim that such land issues should not be dealt with on a case-bycase basis and that power should not be controlled by just one man.


april 2007

Khmer New Year California style

By Pagnawath Khun



Bringing life insurance to Cambodia S

EOUL, South Korea - Would one ever think of owning a life insurance policy in Cambodia? Life insurance will be available in the coming months for all citizens. A final review workshop summarizing and commenting on the research about establishing a Market Securities and Policy system for life insurance companies was held at Korean Development Institute School (KDI School) of Public Policy and Management on March 19th to the 23rd. The participants included Cambodian government officials from the Ministry of Economics and Finance and the National Bank of Cambodia as well as other distinguished professors and guests from other institutions. The workshop summarized the research outcome and comments from the sponsoring bodies, the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Korea and KDI School. Their aim is for the establishment of a life insurance system in the country of Cambodia. A policy and system for the life insurance industry can help boost financial mobilization within the country, especially during this time when financial management ability within the government is very crucial. Dr. NAM Sang-Woo, a professor at Korean Development Institute School, said in the workshop, "Life insurance is to contribute to the Cambodian Bond Market and become a major shareholder in the future bond market." At present, there is no bond market in Cambodia. Government bonds are to be introduced in the near future to bring many the people's money out into the market and help to stimulate the economy. Government bond insurance is a non-inflationary way of funding and it also enhances the effectiveness of the monetary policy. Life insurance companies can direct their resources to invest in other sectors also. This will help make the economy grow and expand. Research Fellow Dr. KIM Seong Young from Korea Insurance Development Institute, said that insurance companies need to reinvest their money and make a profit in the financial market. Without this ability, they would take their money to invest abroad. Life insurance can assist economic growth and development in general and the development of an open financial market in

particular. However, it is questionable if it is the right time to implement the policy. Mr. KEM Viseth, a senior Financial Market researcher in Korea, said, "It's

data for building a mortality rate table since there are not any life insurance companies existing yet. By comparing figures with neighboring countries like China, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia, Cambodia can estimate its rate by expecting a slightly higher

Director, Financial Industry Department, MEF, said, "We plan to launch a joint venture with foreign companies from Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong and local companies. Market research is sponsored by Korea. The actual efficiency and applicability of the venture is not yet

From Left to Right: Sou Socheat, Cambodian Delegate; Chairpersons: Nam Sang-Woo, KDI Professor, Lee Tai-Hee, Head of Center for Economic Cooperation, KDI School.

not really the right time for Cambodia to have a bond market. However, it should be the time that we should study about it because when our country grows better, we need the market to mobilize the financial resources for economic development." There are also some possible drawbacks in the future regarding the interest rate. Rapid change in interest rates can cause huge damage to insurance companies. Dr. KIM Seong Young commented that at the present time, interest rates in Cambodia are stable - rising only slightly - but will likely go down at some point. The government must be ready for such a possibility in the near future. Cambodia also needs to develop a mortality rate table. These tables calculate different variables in order to more fully ascertain the true cost of insuring them. It is the key factor for developing a life insurance industry. However, there is no

mortality rate than these countries. Mr. Sou Socheat, Deputy

known. Price is still a major concern as well. It is not yet known what the actual costs of doing business will be. Some of the Koreans involved however, believe that it is better to implement the policy first and then work out the details after it has already been established. In June we will be able to observe the newly-born system of life insurance and then to observe its development as time goes on. By Tram Lyrattanak ad

in by Angels. Traditional methods of celebrating the holidays include thorough cleaning of the house prior to the change of years, visits to the temples to make food offerings, and the more common games, exchange of gifts and general merrymaking. A clean house will bring in good luck, since the Angels will be happy upon entering a clean home, blessing the home for the new year. In California, Cambodians will also follow the same practices, particularly making food offerings to monks at the temples in the Cambodian communities. The old Khmer culture and religion were founded on Hinduism, which preceded Buddhism in Asia. Cambodians generally practice a mixture of both. The people in Cambodia will celebrate the New Year holidays during the weekend of April 14, 15 and 16, while those in California prefer to extend it a weekend more. To end the two-weekend California Khmer New Year holidays, a festival showcasing Khmer culture will be held at El Dorado Regional Park on April 21. Featured in the festival will be games, exhibits, and the display of Khmer traditional foods, music and arts. The public can sample more Cambodian foodstuffs and cuisine as food vendors will also have kiosks and booths in the Regional Park. So whether you wish to be just a passive witness, a curious tourist or an active participant in the California Khmer New Year holiday celebrations, you can find what you want at the MacArthur Park on April 7, and again at the El Dorado Regional Park on April 21. Just being there will be enjoyable enough.


photos: kdi school

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Long Beach, California will once again witness the Khmer New Year celebrations, beginning with a gigantic parade on April 7. According to Peter Long, head of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce in Long Beach, coorganizer of the festivities, the parade will open the two-weekend celebrations with a bang, and is expected to draw very large crowds. Its route will take it through what is known locally as Cambodia Town along the Anaheim Street, where large numbers of visitors and onlookers are expected like before, to end at MacArthur Park. Artistic performances by Cambodian musicians and other ethnic groups will highlight the festivity at the Park while traditional foods will also be on display and sale, for those who get hungry or just want to taste Cambodian cuisine. On April 7, an interfaith service will be held 9:30am before the parade starts at the corner of Anaheim Street and Junipero Avenue and proceeds to stop at the MacArthur Park in Long Beach. Peter Long also said that this year's parade will be bigger, since it will include participants from other ethnic groups. "Their participation will add more color to the activity as well as symbolize unity among the ethnic communities of Southern California", Long added. The Khmer traditional year follows the lunar calendar, and this year's actual change from the Year of the Dog to the Year of the Pig has been computed to be at 12:48pm of April 14. The date and time are determined by Cambodian astrologers known as Horas, based on an ancient formula known only to them. In traditional beliefs, the years are brought

cambodia news & world report


cambodia news & world report

april 2007


Fast and cheap between Cambodia and Vietnam Forget flying between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh: take the bus. And if that sounds terrifying, it really isn't. Taking the Mekong Express between the two capitals is one of the easiest journeys available. Leaving O'Russey Market around 7am, the bus pelts up to the Bavet/Moc Bai border by 11am. The bus company deals with all visa processing, only requiring you to answer your name a few

times and put your luggage through a scanner. Once through, the road into Ho Chi Minh City takes around one and a half hours. The whole journey takes just over six hours. The road is currently being resurfaced from Phnom Penh to Neak Lueang, but this made negligible difference in actual travel time. The bus stops in two places, Pham Ngu Lao in District 1, which is useful for tourists. It also stops

the Mekong Express costs only US$12 one way with visa service included. There are other companies doing this also, though I mention Mekong Express because I have traveled with this company four times now and have found it to be consistent and excellent. If you want, you can always find cheaper alternatives. However, if you can afford the small extra fare, it is much better to avoid the border officials. You can buy bus tickets from any agency in Phnom Penh.

opposite the hospital in District 5 (Cambodians often come to Vietnam for their medical needs). Also helpful, there is an office where you can book return tickets in Pham Ngu Lao. The staff do not speak Khmer, but on the outward journey the bus company enables Khmers to book return seats and gives out a Khmer-speaking phone number in case of changes. While there are other options,

Stay Another Day: Cambodia's future tourism strategy


Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat, and thus Siem Reap also, generate nearly one-hundred percent of all tourist visits to Cambodia. Sadly though, Siem Reap province remains one of the poorest provinces in all of Cambodia. Lloyd-Williams explains both the concerns and the reasons for the "Stay Another Day" campaign. "First, although hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Seam Reap every year, very little of the profits trickle down to the wider community." Another reason that LloydWilliams gave, related to the negative consequences of mass tourism.

interesting (Eco) tourism destinations and urges people to explore beyond the temples of Angkor. The campaign seems to be going in the right direction for now. Other destinations in Cambodia are becoming more and more popular and museums and non-governmental organization (NGOs) such as Conservation International are noticing an increase in tourists and visitors. Investors don't flock into the main tourism areas anymore and tend to spread their wings and land in the smaller provincial towns such as Kratie, Kampot and Koh Kong. They bring with them, a photo: pagnawath khun

A stunning view of a mountain range not to be missed in north-western Cambodia.

nations. The desire for sustainable and responsible travel has increased with many of the country's officials. The number of people visiting the ancient ruins of Angkor is approaching 2 million a year. With that number increasing every year, negative impacts are inevitable. The preservation of Cambodia's heritage has become a priority. According to Kate LloydWilliams, Tourism Program manager of the International Finance Corporation's Mekong Private Sector Development Facility (IFCMPDF), the current average length of stay is only two days and that needs to be increased. The temples are located only 7km from Siem Reap provincial town. However, there is far more to discover in Cambodia than just the temples of

"Some major temples experts already express concern that visitors have reached the maximum capacity." Lloyd-Williams continued, saying that "Water and electricity shortages, water pollution and lack of adequate garbage disposal are all problems acerbated by rapid tourism development." With the country's infrastructure fast improving, other tourist destinations have become more accessible for travelers. Major temple sites like Koh Ker which is located 120km North of Siem Reap, and Sambor Prey Kuk which is 25km from Kampong Thom, are relatively unknown but are historically seen as being of major importance to the mighty Khmer Empire that constructed the temples of Angkor. The "Stay Another Day" campaign highlights these sites and other

number of travelers who can enjoy encounters with the very friendly local people. They can also enjoy the more relaxed environs of the countryside that can only be experienced outside Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. For many that is what is real and that is the true essence of Cambodia. The forum for "Stay Another Day" was organized by the IFCMPDF and was held last June. The ultimate goal IFC-MPDF sets is to promote "destination friendly" tourism by connecting travelers and organizations in order to make tourism more beneficial for local people and to lessen the environmental impacts tourism has on certain areas. Currently the campaign covers Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. By Daniel de Gruiter

With the appearance of hundreds of tuk-tuks across the cities, it's becoming more difficult for moto-taxi (motodup) drivers to make a living. A conversation with any motodup driver, particularly one who works outside the tourist area, reveals how tough a life this can be. These people who usually don't speak much English and who have rickety old motorbikes are mostly patient, gentle and kind. I try to take these motodups as often as possible, avoiding the tuk-tuks (shopping trolleys) and the speed demons outside the guesthouses. But you have to be ready for a couple of challenges. The first consideration is the lack of English. Try to memorize your route in advance because you may not be able to adequately communicate your destination to the driver. The driver may nod but this does not always mean that he knows where you are going. Everything is made easier if he goes slowly and you wave your arms a lot to indicate left or right. Second, do not rely on street numbers. Most Cambodians do not know the street numbers in Phnom Penh. You will find that they direct motodups more according to local landmarks. Third, be patient and enjoy it. These are the gentlemen of moto-taxi driving. They are not trying to cheat you and any mistake is genuine and definitely not aimed to cause offence. Try using a couple of words of Khmer. They will certainly appreciate it. Above all, pay well. I can not cope with arguments that dictate that I should pay the same as a poor Cambodian. There is no need to overpay, but what is wrong with a guy having a good day at work every now and again? In the West, this might mean you can buy a bottle of champagne at the end of the day. Here, it might mean he can feed his children. If the driver has treated you well, remember to treat them well also.

Cambodia gets hotter and hotter at this time of year and the weather recently has kept up with this trend. April and May are roasting. You will find Cambodian people always seeking shelter, with the exception of those enjoying the Khmer New Years celebration. Even during the low season, those who have not become acclimatized to hot weather can suffer. It is imperative to take it slow and not overdo things. Adapting to a hot, tropical climate can take a few months and you are particularly at risk if you come straight out of winter into the oven that is Cambodia just before the rainy season begins. Make sure that you increase your fluid intake. This sounds simple but many people do not realize that they are not drinking enough. The result is that they get sick quickly. Try

to drink as much water as possible While there are other alternatives, water is still the best option for replenishing fluids. Try not to be too active. If you have come from a very active lifestyle and you miss it, you should still try to control yourself; at least at first. If you want to walk, avoid the middle of the day. If you are walking outside remember to wear a hat. If you find that you are not sweating much, do not celebrate! Find some water immediately. Sweat is the body's natural response to heat. It should be there. If you become dehydrated you will quickly 'break down' much the same as a car radiator that has run out of water. In addition, cover up, (wear long sleeves) use strong sun cream, wear good quality sunglasses and make sure you cover any moles. photo: pagnawath khun

t used to be a common feature in Cambodia, the large tour operators around the world fly their clients into Siem Reap International Airport in order to behold the ancient ruins of Angkor, one of the remaining 7 wonders of the world. Three days later, they depart for either Bangkok or carry on to Hanoi or Vientiane. It seems that those days are over now and a new campaign, "Stay Another Day", is urging visitors to remain and discover the real Cambodia. Today Angkor Wat is on many people's lists of "must-see" desti-

How to treat your motodup driver

Cambodia gets hotter: Take precautions and look after your health

Visas for those who can't bear to leave There are those who come to Cambodia in order to work in the country and those who suddenly realize after a week or so that they can't possibly leave and that they must live in Cambodia forever (this is more common than you would think). Rest assured that it is currently very easy to ensure that you can stay longer after you come in for a holiday. If you entered with a onemonth tourist visa, simply go to any travel agency and they will do what you want. You want a business visa, which can be bought for one, three or even six months up to one year, then tell the staff what you need. They will take your passport, charge a small fee and complete the application. Holding a business visa means that you can extend your trip indefinitely (but don't forget to keep your visa up-to-date - it gets pricey if you overstay without a visa).

You can also go to the Department of Immigration located across from the airport, but this is not necessary. However, these arrangements may not be set in stone. For a start, the visa system throughout ASEAN is in flux. Thai visas became less straightforward for foreigners recently and this may be the case for Cambodia also in the future. I have never been asked for proof of my business when applying for a business visa but this may also change. Above all, there have been rumblings and mumblings about a one-year work permit costing around US$100 annually. This would not be necessary for staff of INGOs, but it is likely that others who earn substantially less will have to give in and perhaps even leave. Nothing concrete has happened on this yet but keep your eyes open for more information.

arts & culture / entertainment

cambodia news & world report

april 2007



of his character in the movie. "I acted mostly as a guy from a poor family and a roman actor," said Sovann Mony. Sovann Mony who has been absent from the Cambodian film arena since 1997, is currently residing in Long Beach City, California, United States. He works for Direct TV, one of the largest satellite television service providers in the United States. "I have to quit my acting career and get a job with Direct TV so that

I can survive in this country as in here we have to pay for everything - rent, gas, telephone, insurance and much more for daily life expenses," he said. "On the other hand, the Cambodian film industry in the Cambodian communities in the United States is not as much progressing as in Cambodia. I used to work for a

Cambodian filmmaking really came to the fore in the 1950s, but unfortunately activities came to a halt when war took over the country. Recently, things have changed, and there are more and more examples of indigenous filmmakers making forays into the world of moving pictures. Although it has taken time for such artists to represent competition to imported video and television programs, a revival is now under way. This is evident in the new production companies throughout the country, the increase in the number of films in production, and the prevalence of movie theaters, particularly in the capital Phnom Penh. few US based film and Karaoke production companies too, but some of them went bankrupt." Mony came to the United Sates in July, 1997. He first arrived in Lowell, Massachusetts, the state which has the second largest Cambodian population. Upon his

select film production companies. "I am not a really famous star of Cambodia but I love the artist field as since the end of Pol Pot regime the film industry of Cambodia just started back from the scratch and recovered, and we have less talented people - most famous singers, talented actors and actresses and other artists had died during the regime. I wanted to see our film industry go back to the same state as it was during the Sangkom Reas Niyum era and even better," he said. "I can see now that the Cambodian big screen movies, Karaoke or documentary production is booming both in Cambodia and the United States, hope that we will have new younger generation stars do their best in Cambodia," he told Cambodia News & World Report. He also voiced his advice to some of the younger stars that they should take care when they get famous. They need to be certain that their attitude and behavior does not change. They should never look down on, or mock their peers or the old-timers in the field. "This is just my personal opinion, but it is true sometimes to those who are in the industry at the moment," he lamented. By Kimhan Peou

Sovann Mony

arrival, he continued his acting career as a Karaoke star and also performed at some Cambodian restaurants, bars and casinos in and out of Massachusetts for almost a year. He then left Massachusetts for a new settlement in Long Beach, California. Like most other Cambodians of his age, Mony survived all of the bitter experiences of the Khmer

Turning-81-year-old playboy creator to get married? around the Mansion and around the world are captured on his show. Lately however, the show has been losing some of its audience. The wedding is thought to be likely this is more of a marketing ploy for his show than romance or true love, say insiders close to Mr. Hefner. None of the details

tors helped him to excel in the film industry despite the fact that he does not come from an artistic family - his mother was a midwife and his father was a Military Police officer. His career continued to grow after he became involved in films and he was actually invited to perform in the US. When he met his wife, Cecelia Kimry Sovann, he decided to stay there. When asked by Cambodia News & World Report why he left his acting career, he replied "I decided to leave the acting career for a while and took a job with Direct TV which is new to me because I need to earn money to support my family, but my goal still remains." "I still love the artist field and the career as an actor. I have a plan to collaborate with some of my friends who are old-timer stars like Rindaro Tep and Dara Chhaya Thong to open a film production company in Cambodia in the future when I have enough [capital] to start," he continued. Sovann Mony got married to Cecelia Kimry Sovann in the United States in February 2005 and returned for his first visit to Cambodia in April 2005. He also said that next year in 2008, he would enjoy a longer visit to Cambodia, where he will be seen on TV talk shows and working with

about the wedding will be released until it is shown on The Girls Next Door program. His coming marriage and vow of monogamy may actually cause a larger decline in the ratings of his reality show instead of increasing them as planned though. Madison was chosen over his other live-in girlfriends, Kendra

Rouge regime. During this time he lost his father and two of his four siblings. His mother Leang Somaly who was working as a midwife later died in 1995. He completed high school in 1990, and without any formal training in the schools of fine arts, Mony began acting in movies. His natural talent and skills combined with some advice from the direc-

Mony, standing near his truck, wearing his uniform and a broad smile. ad

and Bridget, due to their lack of dedication to Hefner. Kendra is rarely at the Mansion because of her combative personality towards the other two girls. Bridget is only in the picture still since she has been able to maintain a close friendship with Holly. There is another peculiarity in Hugh Hefner's third marriage. He is still not legally divorced from his second wife, Kimberly Conrad. Whether Hefner has an official marriage with Holly Madison remains to be seen. If so, it will be necessary for him to file for a divorce first. Hefner has two children with Conrad and two with his first wife and says he wants one more. With wedding bells ringing in Hefner's Playboy Mansion, the cameras rolling and millions of dollars on the line, this could very well be just another gimmick to boost his shows ratings. Whether it will actually work or not remains to be seen. By Patrick Johnston


LOS ANGELES - For the average man approaching his 81st birthday, life has become mundane and predictable. However, Hugh Hefner is not the average man. The creator of Playboy Magazine, who will be turning 81 on April 9, is also planning his third marriage for later this year. His soonto-be bride is twenty-sevenyear-old Holly Madison who has been his closest girlfriend for nearly seven years since she joined Hefner in the infamous Playboy Mansion. The icon of American sexuality was previously married to Mildred Williams, whom he wed in 1949. They divorced after ten years, six of which were when Hefner was busy creating Playboy. The wealthy entrepreneur is currently running a reality show on the "E!" channel - The Girls Next Door - which follows the life of Hefner and his three closest girlfriends, Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson and of course, his future wife, Holly Madison. Hefner's travels

Acting career gone, but dream remains photos: kimhan peou

ONG BEACH, Calif. - Born in Phnom Penh, Sovann Mony started to get involved in the film industry when he was 19 and started as an actor in the Cambodian movies during the 1990s. His first movie was Pyoos Chivit (The Storm of Life) written and directed by Mr. Nit Uon. This was followed by a few other films such as Ah So Ohn Phhorng (Be Pity On Me) and Chab Srok Nov E Prey (Domestic Sparrow In The Forest) written and directed by Mr. Sambath Nob and his wife, the parents of Payarih Nob who is one of the current popular singers contracted with Rasmei Hang Meas Productions. During his acting career, he was recognized by Cambodians as an actor who is adept at transfiguring himself to reveal the true essence

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cambodia news


world report

april 2007

ANDAR SERI BEGAWAN Goalkeeper Sompong Yod-Ard was Thailand's saviour in the March 12 final of the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy for Association of Southeast Asian Youth Football Championship 2007, diving to his left to save Myanmar's Si Thu Tuan's penalty kick to give the Thais a 5-4 penalty shoot out victory. Present at the match held at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium was His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, who later presented the prestigious trophy to Thai captain Chokchai Chuchai, whose country also won the tournament in 2005. The game was a re-match of the 2005 final which Thailand won 3-0, and after the end of regulation time, which ended 0-0, the fans at the stadium were on the edge of their seats during extra-time, which also saw no goals. But the lack of goals didn't mean a lack of scoring chances for both teams - who are the tournament's joint top scorers with 21 goals - and both finalists w e r e equally

photos: fahmi abas

Thailand beats Myanmar on penalties to defend title B The Thai team is exultant in victory.

Myanmar fans go crazy...

matched in a robust game which saw 10 yellow cards and one red for Myanmar. After a shaky start in which both teams failed to capitalize on several chances, probably due to nerves, the Thais took hold of the game with their smooth passing and through

balls to the flanks. Orchestrated by the lively Anawin Jujeen on the right flank, most of Thailand's opportunities came from crosses into the box. But Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet was his team's lifesaver - pulling off three

spectacular saves at the end of regulation time as well as in the second half of extra time, which the Thais dominated, to keep his team in the game. Although Sompong won the Best Player award, Kyaw deserved to be named Man of The Match after his heroics in goal. The speedy Myanmar players created a multitude of problems for the Thais and had the crowd on their feet every time they surged forward on a counter attack. Thailand's long ball tactic didn't seem to have the desired effect and the tough Myanmar players gave the Thais little breathing space. After both teams missed their first penalty, Everton FC youth player Naruphol ArRomsawa stepped up to make it 5-4 and Sompong's save ensured that was the final result. ''Deciding the game on penalties, it could have gone either way, so I feel very lucky to have won,'' said Thailand's head coach, Kawin Kaehendecha. ''It was a very hard game and I wasn't expecting Myanmar to play so good. ''Both goalkeepers played very well today (Monday) - especially the Myanmar keeper, who made many important saves,'' he added. (The Brunei Times) By Jason Thomas

Thai Captain receiving the Trophy from the Crown Prince of Brunei on March 12.

The Golden Voice

actors from Cambodia-town appear in the film. "The Golden Voice" stars 26year-old Sophea Pel as Ros Sereysothea. A seasoned Khmer singer, Sophea had never acted before her role in the film. Those who have seen the film find this fact almost unbelievable - her

performance is stellar. Narin Pot, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge years, co-stars as Chenda, Sothea's friend. Narin's performance is equally incredible. Due to budgetary and time constraints, Cahill chose to shoot a 25 minute version of the film which focuses on Sereysothea's struggle for survival in a Khmer Rouge labor camp. The short was shot in Los Angeles over 5 days and some of the major locations include the Los Angeles Arboretum and South Coast Botanical Garden. Crew members included cinematographer John Matysiak and production designer Pengchon Vann. "The Golden Voice" premiered

to a cheering audience of 400 at California State University in Long Beach on October 28th. The premier included a traditional Khmer drum performance and a question and answer session with Greg Cahill, Sophea Pel and Narin Pot. The audience reaction to the movie was overwhelmingly positive. Cahill says that his future goal is to develop "The Golden Voice" into a full-length feature film to be shot in Cambodia. He is enthusiastic about the prospect and hopes others will be too, "we hope that the short version generates enough interest to attract financing for the featurelength production." By Pagnawath Khun

PHNOM PENH - In a 2007 TOTAL Cup championship racing event on March 11 in Prek Leap Commune of Phnom Penh, Iv Leng was able to capture yet another victory. The event, jointly sponsored by Total, ANZ Royal and Comin Khmere was won by Leng for the third year in a row. "I am excited. This is my third year to get the trophy and I am happy that the race can take place every year." He also mentioned that although we have this event every year, Cambodian racers still have limited skills when racing, especially when they are compared to foreign racers. This is mostly due to the fact that there are not sufficient means for proper training here in Cambodia. This TOTAL Cup event featured more than thirty racers from the US, France, Britain, New Zealand, Thailand, The Philippines and of course Cambodia. The race is held just outside the city core of Phnom Penh. Even with such a diverse group of racers, Cambodians were still the most represented group on the field. Half of the racers were native Cambodians. The winners in Group A were New Zealand, Thailand and France respectively. Two Cambodians made it to the podium in Group B and all three of the winners in Group C were natives of Cambodia. Leng raced in both Group A and Group B competitions. He was matched against many foreign riders throughout the course of the competition. However, none of his competitors were good enough to take the title away from the defending champion. He said he has enjoyed racing since he was young and he started to ride dirt bikes in 1997. Since then, Leng has traveled throughout Cambodia always using his dirt bike for transportation. Iv Leng is currently working as a free-lance adventure dirt

bike tour guide. He has traveled to many of the more remote areas of Cambodia. Iv Leng is the only child of his parents. He is currently living with his mother in Daun Penh District, Phnom Penh. His father was killed during the Pol Pot regime. Iv Leng was once featured in a Malaysian Magazine after he won a major race in Kula Lumpur in February of this year. As the only Cambodian present, he competed against racers from Thailand, Singapore and Malaysian riders in that event. Iv Leng said that during the race, his experience and technical abilities were the driving force and helped him to gain his third consecutive win. "I started racing when I was 25 and now I am 31. I still want to continue this as I love this sport." While his training is still limited, he practices daily on his own in the field and with the training help from a Frenchman, Pierre Cartier. Currently, there is no professional coaching provided by the government for this sport. The primary sponsor of the race was the ANZ Royal Bank. He said that it is good that the event can be held, thanks mostly to the companies' sponsorship. "I would like to thank TOTAL Cup, ANZ Royal and Comin Khmere for their contribution and making possible this event to happen," Leng stated. "Only the shares and giving and support from private companies can make this event continue and Cambodian racers have more opportunities to gain skills." A thankful rider, with a lot to be thankful for, Iv Leng will look to defend his title again next year in Phnom Penh. In the meantime, Iv Leng is still searching for private sponsors in order to increase both his skills and his ability to race in a wider range of competitions. By Meun Sothy photo: chea chhourn

photo: courtesy greg carhill

LOS ANGELES - When Greg Cahill first heard Ros Sereysothea on a film soundtrack, he could not understand her Khmer lyrics but he fell in love with the voice behind the music. He was captivated. When he started to do research about the singer, he says he "uncovered a fascinating life story of poverty, fame, love, slavery and ultimately, death. I knew right away that her story needed to be made into a film." Thus, "The Golden Voice" was born. Cahill wrote the script with the help of research he did with the people of the Cambodian community in Long Beach, California. Casting for the film was also done in Long Beach. About 30 Khmer

Iv Leng: 3 years, 3 events and 3 trophies

Starting positions on the line.

Cambodia News | Issue: 1 ! April 2007  

Cambodia News | Issue: 1 ! April 2007

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