Phnom Penh


Drinking my laast mango-pomegranate-orange tango shake and sipping a long black before heading state-side later this morning! Here’s the last Cambodge news round-up for the summer!

‘Bold plan’ for Mekong area rail link approved

By: Ian Timberlake in AFP, August 21, 2010

A “bold” plan for a railway system connecting more than 300 million people who live around one of the world’s great rivers, the Mekong, was approved Friday, officials said. Ministers from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam adopted the plan which they called “a significant first step toward the development of an integrated… railway system”.

"Sea of Trees" in Mondulkiri

Stronger wildlife laws needed, officials say

By: Chhay Channyda in Phnom Penh Post, August 19, 2010

NEW laws and harsher penalties are needed to prosecute people who trade in illegal wildlife, government officials said yesterday. Speaking at the opening of a two-day regional anti-wildlife trafficking workshop in Phnom Penh, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said that a lack of concrete wildlife management legislation combined with weak penalties for illegal traders meant there was little to deter would-be perpetrators.

Cellphones help Cambodian students — to cheat

By: Dara Saoyuth, AFP, August 19, 2010

Standing in front of a school in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, Than Vichea read out answers over his mobile telephone to his sister who was taking national exams inside. He was not alone. Even the police deployed outside schools to stop relatives providing answers to the more than 100,000 students who sat the tests last month could not prevent cheating in many of the exam centres.

Commodities Pork sales decline over blue-ear fear

By: Jimmy Ellingham and Veng Rachana in Phnom Penh Post, August 16, 2010

PHNOM Penh pork vendors are selling up to two-thirds less meat than usual, as consumers continue to stay home due to concerns about blue-ear disease in pigs. Government officials have warned there is a risk people could suffer severe diarrhoea if they eat infected meat that has not been cooked properly, although a United Nations official has said the disease could not be contracted by humans.

Cambodian Woman Faces Prison in Land Grabbing Case

By: Mu Sochua, August 16, 2010

Mu Sochua took part today, Monday 16th August, in a Press Conference organized in the context of a recent land dispute case (in Kompong Thom Province – see full case description in previous post). Local representative, Lem Nath, has been physically abused and thrown into prison for stepping up in the case of local land grabbing.


The beat goes on … and on

By: Phnom Penh Post, August 13, 2010

The musical aspect, the cello playing, is minimal. It simply intersperses an emotive, and at times slightly paranoid, spiel by the good doctor, mainly to raise funds, but also to pay out on all those he has deemed as attempting to stand in his troubled way, trapped as he is by his own unappreciated philanthropy.

Littering law cleans up

By: Chhay Channyda, August 13, 2010

CITY Hall has collected more than 9 million riels (US$2,148) in fines since a crackdown on littering began in May, an official said yesterday. Chiek Ang, director of the municipal Environment Department, said most of the fees, collected between May 1 and July 31, had been paid by people caught littering in marketplaces.

Rice Fields in Central Cambodia

Climate yields rice concerns

By: Jerermy Mullins and Sun Mesa in Phnom Penh Post, August 11, 2010

TROPICAL Asia’s rice yields are at risk because of climate change, as evidence suggests higher temperatures have already cut growth rates as much as 20 percent in some areas, according the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Facing history in Cambodia

By Akshan deAlwis in Boston Globe, August 10, 2010

Akshan deAlwis will be a freshman at Noble and Greenough School in the fall.

I was nine when I read “First They Killed my Father.” It had a profound impact on me and I wanted to learn more about both the glory that was the Khmer civilization and its more recent history of conflict.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Battambang demonstrators get bussed out of town

By: May Titthara in Phnom Penh Post, August 9, 2010

UNICIPAL and Daun Penh district police yesterday forcibly broke up a demonstration near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh home by villagers from Battambang province, loading them onto a bus out of town in a move that drew swift condemnation from rights workers.

Cambodia marches away from its troubled past

By: The National News Paper, August 7, 2010

This year the Cambodian economy is expected to grow by just 5 per cent, but for most of the past decade the economy has registered an annual growth rate of about 10 per cent – an almost China-style growth story that the world press has largely ignored. Given this economic background, outsiders should not regard the Cambodia Stock Exchange as some sort of vanity project. If it opens and succeeds it can serve as another avenue for attracting foreign capital to a country desperately in need of development funds.

Government Can Help in Tribunal Reconciliation

By: Sok Khemara in VOA Khmer, August 6, 2010

Compensation for victims of the Khmer Rouge is in part a responsibility of the government, a tribunal monitor said Thursday. “Because the state has an obligation to take responsibility for all kinds of people’s suffering,” said Lat Ky, a court monitor for the rights group Adhoc, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

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Cambodia to sign cooperation deal with Iran on oil

By: Reuters, August 6, 2010

Officials from Cambodia are to travel to Iran next week and the two countries will sign agreements covering cooperation in the oil sector, the foreign minister of the Southeast Asian state said on Friday.

‘Trafficked’ woman returns home

By: Phnom Penh Post, August 6, 2010

AN 18-year-old ethnic Tampuon woman from Ratanakkiri province returned home last week after neighbours allegedly took her to the capital for job training without her family’s permission. However, the woman, Leith Dauth, said yesterday that she had volunteered to go to Phnom Penh, and only decided to return to Ratanakkiri after learning that her parents disapproved of her plan to go work in Malaysia.

Photo by: Janos Kis

City police seize motorbikes

By: Tang Khyhay and Cameron Wells in Phnom Penh Post, August 3, 2010

TRAFFIC police in the capital have resumed seizing the motorbikes of helmetless drivers and those who lack side mirrors, despite the fact that the Land Traffic Law does not list vehicle confiscation as a possible punishment for such offences.

Cambodia reports 88 lightning deaths

By: TMC, August 5, 2010

Cambodian government said Thursday that 88 people, mostly in rural areas — have died of lightning strikes. Keo Vy, communication officer of National Committee of Disaster Management said that by the end of July, there were 88 people have died in lightning strikes. However, he said, the figure is still less than that in the same period last year as 110 died of lightning incidents.

Forestry, fisheries crimes lost in red tape: minister

By: Khouth Sophakchakrya in Phnom Penh Post, August 3, 2010

AGRICULTURE Minister Chan Sarun has accused courts of dragging their feet on forestry, agriculture and fisheries crimes, claiming 70 percent nationwide have not been to trial. In remarks delivered to Forestry Administration workers in Phnom Penh, a copy of which was obtained yesterday, Chan Sarun attributed the backlog to “a lack of cooperation”.

Jailed journalist reports graft

By: Chhay Channyda in Phnom Penh Post, August 3, 2010

A JAILED journalist whose Appeal Court hearing is scheduled for later this month said yesterday that he had been asked to pay US$1,000 before court officials would tell him the exact date.

Cambodia’s Struggle With Globalization

By:  Hal Hill, Jayant Menon & Chan Sopha in The Jakarta Globe, August 2, 2010

The charming riverside capital of Phnom Penh, home to about 1.5 million inhabitants, has seen a lot in its turbulent history. But arguably nothing is on the scale of its first skyscraper, the 42-floor Gold Tower now nearing completion, not to mention the university and bank complexes mushrooming throughout this ancient city.

Dam projects threaten giants of the Mekong: Conservationists

By: Ian MacKinnon, The Daily Telegraph, July 28, 2010

The survival of some of the world’s largest freshwater fish, including a giant catfish, is threatened by a series of hydroelectric dams planned for the Mekong River, a leading environmental group has warned. The construction of a particular dam in northern Laos would disrupt the migration of four of the world’s 10 largest freshwater species to crucial spawning grounds, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.

Ask Cambodian Workers: What Good Has ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ Done?

By: Jeff Ballinger, In These Times, July 26, 2010

Tens of thousands of workers in Cambodia and Bangladesh have protested numerous times over the last ten weeks, due to expected national minimum wage adjustments (which are behind schedule); their wages are never raised through the dignified means of collective bargaining. Look back to 1998 when a prominent FLA member (Patagonia’s Kevin Sweeney) wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “We Can Work Up To a Living Wage.” So, what’s happened over the past dozen years?

From the Killing Fields, on a Mission of Truth

By: Stephen Holden, New York Times, July 29, 2010

“Enemies of the People” is another disquieting testament to the fact that ordinary individuals under extreme pressure will carry out the most monstrous crimes. If they hadn’t followed the orders of superiors, they say, they themselves would have been killed. One farmer, a Buddhist who believes in reincarnation, expresses his tormented certainty that it will be many lifetimes before he returns in human form.

CNN Hero Aki Ra Disarms Land Mines In Cambodia He Placed Decades Earlier

By: Huffington Post, July 30, 2010

Aki Ra, leader of the nonprofit Cambodian Self Help Demining team, works to make his country more safe by clearing land mines on a daily basis. He estimates that he and his team have cleared more than 50,000 land mines — some of which he planted himself.

Cocktails with Khmer Rouge killers

By: Angus MacSwan, Reuters, July 30, 2010

The sentencing of Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav this week and the forthcoming trial of former leader Khieu Samphan by a United Nations-backed court has brought renewed attention to their murderous rule of Cambodia in the 1970s — and a certain amount of satisfaction in the “international community” for its role in seeing justice done.

First off… Happy Birthday to my wonderful Papa Dan! Biggest news of the day in my sphere is my dad turning an impressive 65 today! Wisdom speaks louder than words and his will continue always to echo in my ears.

As many of you have seen, the international news from the Cambodia front has been the announcement of (alias) Duch’s judgement at the EC on Monday. I’ve included a few items and hope to post something myself later this week. Until then, here are some news stories from this past week!

Photo by: Pha Lina

Exam monitors ‘take money’

By: Khouth Sophakchakrya, July 28, 2010

THE head of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association yesterday accused officials in Kandal province of ordering teachers administering Grade 12 national exams to take money from students, part of what he described as worsening corruption surrounding the three-day tests.

Convicted Khmer Rouge prison chief to appeal: lawyer

By Suy Se in AFP, July 27, 2010

Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch will appeal against his conviction by Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes tribunal, which sentenced him to 30 years in jail, his defence lawyer said Tuesday. Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the court on Monday in a ruling that has been hailed as a “historic milestone” in tackling impunity in the country.

Cambodian women rally behind condemned opposition MP Mu Sochua

By: Observers, July 27, 2010

Mu Sochua, a female MP of Cambodia’s opposition Sam Rainsy Party, faces jail for refusing to pay 4,000 dollars in fines and compensation on a conviction last year for allegedly defaming prime minister Hun Sen. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the proceedings against her an example of the “alarming erosion” of Cambodia’s free speech and judicial independence.

Photo by: Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian garment workers clash with police

By Prak Chan Thul, Reuters, July 27, 2010

At least nine female garment workers were injured on Tuesday in clashes with Cambodian riot police who used shields and electric shock batons to try to end a week-long strike over the suspension of a local union official.

Press Release: Kaing Guek Eav Convicted of Crimes Against Humanity and Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949

By: ECCC, July 26, 2010

The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) today found KAING Guek Eav alias Duch guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and sentenced him to 35 (thirty-five) years of imprisonment.

Duch gets 35 (- 5) years

By: IntLawGrrls, July 26, 2010

So says the presiding judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in Khmer, in this 10-minute video clip of today’s verdict against Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch), about whose trial we’ve blogged here. The 67-year-old Duch, stoic during the reading of the verdict, was convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, and torture, and sentenced to “35 years in prison — with five years taken off that sentence for time served.”

Cambodia: The Official Launch of the First Online Human Rights Portal

By: Sopheap Chak in Global Voices Online, July 26, 2010

Sithi.org, a Cambodian human rights portal that aims to crowdsource and curate reports of human rights violations, officially launched on July 22, 2010 with participation from various institutions including embassies, international and local NGOs, media and university representatives. Over the past year, the site has developed rapidly. A number of reports of human rights violations, relevant legal instruments and publications have been made available on the site.

Irish photographer recalls day he found KRouge torturer

By: AFP, July 24, 2010

In March 1999 an old man wandered up to an Irish photographer on his day off in a village in Cambodia. It was Duch, the torture chief of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime who many assumed was long dead.

Cambodian Ruling Party’s Plenum Reaffirms Hun Sen for PM Post in Next Terms

By: CRI English, July 22, 2010

The Cambodia’s ruling party — the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on Thursday reaffirmed at it plenum Hun Sen’s candidate for prime minister post for the next terms. “The plenum reaffirms its endorsement of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen’s candidacy for the post of prime minister for the next terms,” announced the party’s communique released at the ending of the 35th Plenum of the Fifth-Term Central Committee of the CPP.

Cambodian Sex Workers Protest (© 2008 AP Photo)

Cambodia: Sex Workers Face Unlawful Arrests and Detention

Officials Should Investigate and Close Government Centers Where Abuses Occur

By: Human Rights Watch, July 20, 2010

For far too long, police and other authorities have unlawfully locked up sex workers, beaten and sexually abused them, and looted their money and other possessions. The Cambodian government should order a prompt and thorough independent investigation into these systematic violations of sex workers’ human rights and shut down the centers where these people have been abused.

Inflation ‘manageable’ in first half of 2010

By: May Kunmakara in Phnom Penh Post, July 20, 2010

INFLATION, recorded at 5.22 percent in the first half of the year, has grown at a “stable” and “manageable” rate according to commentators. According to National Institute of Statistics consumer price index released yesterday, the first six months of 2010 saw inflation reach 5.22 percent compared to the same period last year. Quarter-on-quarter inflation was slight at 0.3 percent.

US envoy defends military relations with Cambodia

By: AFP, June 19, 2010

A senior US diplomat on Sunday defended relations with allegedly abusive Cambodian military units as he concluded a two-day visit to the capital Phnom Penh. William Burns, US Under-Secretary of State for political affairs, said military aid from the United States to Cambodia was intended to boost a civil-military relationship that was essential to a “healthy political system”.

Sochua at ‘war’ with courts

By: Meas Sokchea in Phonm Penh Post, July 16, 2010

OPPOSITION lawmaker Mu Sochua reaffirmed yesterday that she would refuse to pay fines levied after she was convicted of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen, again daring the government to imprison her for failing to meet a court-ordered payment deadline.

Human rights head ‘seriously concerned’ at pursuit of opposition MP

By: Earth Times, July 16, 2010

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed “serious concern” Tuesday at the Cambodian government’s pursuit of a criminal case against opposition parliamentarian Mu Sochua.

Hundreds of families block land-clearing

By: May Tithara in Phnom Penh Post, July 16, 2010

AROUND 256 families from Kampong Speu province’s Trapaing Chor commune held a sit-down protest in Phlout Leu village yesterday to prevent a sugar firm from clearing their farmland, villagers said. Villager Lot Sovan, who claims to have occupied the land since 2000, said the company began clearing the land at 3:30pm Wednesday. Villagers asked the company to stop, insisting that the dispute over the concession had not been resolved. The villagers then prevented further clearing by protesting yesterday, he said.

Cambodia women see future in sports and big muscles

By: Kounila Keo, Christian Science Monitor, July 16, 2010

Cambodia women are rising fast in the wide world of sports. Pétanque player Duch Sophorn has alone won gold, silver, and bronze medals in international competitions over the past decade.

Photo of Tonle Bassac Commune by Jake SchonEker

Group 78 anniversary rally planned

By: Jake Schoneker and Tang Khyhay in Phnom Peh Post, July 15, 2010

AYEAR ago this week, police and red-shirted demolition workers arrived at dawn on a Friday morning to clear out a tract of land in Tonle Bassac commune known as Group 78. Once a close-knit community of street vendors and civil servants that contained 146 families, the land is now empty, a fenced-in plot of grass and sand. On Saturday, former Group 78 residents plan to reunite and demonstrate at their old home, a year to the day after the last families were forced to abandon the site and scatter to the outskirts of the city.

100,000 Cambodian officials to be required to declare assets as part of anti-corruption fight

By: Canadian Business, July 14, 2010

Some 100,000 government officials in Cambodia will be required to declare their assets this year in an effort to combat corruption, a senior official said Wednesday. Under an anti-corruption law passed in March, any official found guilty of taking bribes could face up to 15 years in prison. Cambodia, a poor country heavily dependent on foreign aid, is routinely listed by independent groups such as Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in Asia.

Having missed a great opportunity to visit Vietnam this weekend, I thought I’d share some photos of the places I have visited in and outside of Phnom Penh since arriving to Cambodia.  The first is the Royal Palace.

Roayl Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

There are at least 5 wats in Phnom Penh, and so before visiting the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, I had to ask the almighty wikipedia, what is a wat? Here is what it had to say:

A wat (derived from the Sanskrit word वात Vattaka) is a monastery temple in Cambodia, Thailand, or Laos. The word “wat” (Khmer: វត្ត, Thai: วัด, sometimes rendered “vat” when referring to Laos) means “school”.

Halls wrap around the main building

The Royal Palace itself is not a wat but rather a place dedicated for the royal family of Cambodia.

Spirit House on the Palace Grounds

Like the Gargoyles of Paris!

Lesson: Contemplation

Artist Sketches Photo by Ou Mom

Pencil sketches reveal artist’s perspective on KR tribunal

By: Ou Mom in Phnom Penh Post, July 5, 2010

More than 20 pencil sketches on display at the Bophana Centre in Phnom Penh explore artist Kou Dalin’s personal perspective on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. The exhibition, titled My Dreams of Justice, shows drawings by 20-year-old architecture student Kou Dalin while she attended the trial of former Khmer Rouge leader Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, over the course of nearly a year. She said she was contacted by the Taramana Centre, a French organisation that works with poor children in Cambodia, to attend the hearings and make sketches.

Another 50,000 threaten to strike

By: Tep Nimol in Phnom Penh Post, July 5, 2010

THE head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation said yesterday that its 50,000 members would join a three-day strike scheduled for later this month if the minimum wage for garment workers was not raised to US$93 per month. Ath Thun, who is also head of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, issued his strike threat one day after the CLC said that the wage hike was necessary in light of the rising cost of food, accommodation and transportation.

‘Freedom parks’ for Cambodia

By: Straits Times, July 5, 2010

CAMBODIA is making way for ‘freedom parks’ across the country for people to hold demonstrations, a move local activists fear could limit rights of expression, the government said on Monday. ‘All provinces and cities are preparing locations for the freedom parks,’ interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told AFP, adding that local authorities nationwide had been informed about the move.

Activists warn: farm evictees face hunger

By: Will Baxter and May Titthara in Phnom Penh Post, July 2, 2010

MORE than 1,000 families in Kampong Speu province face food shortages after being forced to give up their farmland without compensation to make way for economic land concessions granted to companies owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat and his wife, rights activists said.

UN: Cambodia must address wide rural-urban development divide

By: Earthtimes, July 1, 2010

Cambodia must change the way it targets development or risk worsening already wide disparities between urban and rural areas, a United Nations  report warned Thursday. The report’s author, Nicola Crosta of the UN Capital Development Fund, told a conference in Phnom Penh that his research had found “very stark territorial disparities” in the development of the impoverished South-East Asian nation.

Khmer Rouge verdict to go live

By: Straits Time, July 1, 2010

THE verdict in the trial of Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch will be broadcast live across Cambodia when it is delivered later this month, the UN-backed court said on Thursday. Duch is the first leader from the hardline communist regime to face international justice and observers have stressed the need for proceedings to be open to ordinary Cambodians, many of whom lived through the brutal rule.

Jumping off the moto to wait it out

Photos speak louder than words! It’s rainy season in Cambodia and my first time experiencing the season.

Sans poncho

Many afternoons the sunny skies turn quickly to thick rolling clouds and open up to pour hard drenching rains into flooding streets where kids emerge to play as moto and tuktuk drivers pull on their ponchos and street vendors move under awnings and trees branches to evade the soak.

Handball under the spout

Flooding varies from street to street and some spend the rains moving furniture and bailing out front rooms as the water rushes in from the streets.

Except for the kids who seem to love the rain and those caught unexpectedly in it, the traffic tends to slow and unnecessary movement stops and from a nice dry spot you can feel and listen to the sound of its impact.

Playing in the rain

Walking the moto

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