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.”


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

There are so many things going on in Cambodia outside the narrow scope of my daily life, weekend escapades and area of work.

For those interested in some perspective on current events, ongoing social and political issues, and articles of human interest in Cambodia, here’s the first weekly news roundup!

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

60,000 sign land-dispute petition

By: Cheang Sokha and Chhay Channyda in Phnom Penh Post, July 14, 2010

Around 60,000 people have thumbprinted a letter calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene and resolve a rash of land disputes that have put their homes, farms and livelihoods at risk, community representatives said.


Oum Sok began working as a cyclo driver when he was 18 Photo by: R. Carmichael

Iconic Cyclo Disappearing From Phnom Penh’s Streets

By: Robert Carmichael in Voice of America, July 14, 2010

The cyclo has been a distinctive feature of Phnom Penh’s streets for 70 years, stretching back to the days when Cambodia was a French colony. But this form of transport has begun to fade away.


Photo by Irwin Loy

30 years after Khmer Rouge, killing fields, Cambodia grows new generation of art conservators

By: Irwin Loy in The Christian Science Monitor, June 12, 2010

The Khmer Rouge caused the deaths – by killing, starvation, and disease – of an estimated 2 million Cambodians, including an entire generation of art conservators. With the killing fields in the history books, skilled professionals are now reemerging


Photo by Lianne Milton

He flips, spins, turns his life around

By: Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2010

Deported from the U.S., a former Long Beach gang member makes a name break dancing in Cambodia and becomes a role model.

Article: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-cambodia-breakdancer-20100611,0,5987931.story?page=1&track=rss

Photos: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-cambodia-breakdancer-pictures,0,3611837.photogallery

Cambodian Factories Seek Eco-Friendly Power Alternatives

By: Simon Marks, New York Times, May 27, 2010

There are signs that Cambodia’s garment factories, after a decade of efforts to improve labor standards, are now starting to concern themselves with environmental issues, too.


Old Assembly Building, Phnom Penh

Hello from hot and sweaty Phnom Penh! A lot can happen in ten days and indeed since I arrived I’ve been busy gettin’ busy with taking in this wonderful new city, establishing a place for myself, starting an internship with International Bridges to Justice, grasping my first 15 words of Khmer, and a whole lotta learning about Cambodia by meeting and talking with people and making new friends.

Pork & Noodles

Like landing in any new place there are so many new things to take in, it’s hard to know where to begin. I mean…  how does one describe a city, let alone a country or a people?

I would start with the smells. Mmmmm! Delicious warm foods like soups, fried pork and rice and noodles followed by fumes and interspersed with sewage finished by the scent of incense dancing through the air.

It’s just not really all that blog-able.

Lunch Counter at the Market

The good news is that I landed in Phnom Penh and climbed right into Mr. Phea’s tuktuk taking in my first views of the city and signing a lease to a great two-bedroom apartment thanks to the gracious hosting of Jui and Nick and the blitz and determination of my fab new roommate and fellow Fletcher ’11 Marianne.  Wow it’s so much easier to get to the fun parts when you don’t have to reinvent the expat wheel all over again.

View riding in a tuktuk

Not that I haven’t had my share of fun on the oft unintentional city tour navigating the streets of Phnom Penh with moto drivers who say they know where you want to go but really just want to go. Fortunately, between a misguided moto driver, a lost newbie, her map, and the help of another 10 or 12 Cambodian friends along the way, you will always arrive, it just might take a little longer than you were expecting to get 8 blocks from your original destination.

"Moto? Moto-bike lady? Moto-bike?"

Speaking of which, the driving  in this city is remarkable! People said the traffic might be worse in Phonm Penh than the deadlock and congestion I remember in Bangkok but I can’t imagine that’s true. Phnom Penh is really quite a small, manageable city, and the traffic is filled predominantly with motobikes, some tuktuks, a good number of bicycles, and very few cars compared to the United States. It’s refreshing, save for the epic pollution produced by the thousands of tiny unregulated motorized bikes.

And where some might see total mayhem and anarchy, I find the method to the madness of motos shifting  in and out, coming and going in both directions on both sides of the streets and the clusters that pause at stop lights and gas stations before flowing like herds to the front of the traffic packs to be an impressive and interesting form of organized chaos to watch.

Not to mention the incredible numbers of things you might see on a moto on any given day. The first day I arrived I saw an entire family of five on one moto and on another a person carrying a 14-ft ladder upright on a moto through rush hour.

This is not to romanticize the risk of traffic accidents and health hazards in this system, especially as I set sail into the pack on a three-speed bicycle and $3 helmet myself. There are plenty of downfalls as well. Lack of mirror and helmet usage, pollution, traffic violation enforcement, and no form of public transportation in the city could all be improved.

With all this transport talk you might ask, where am I going and what I have I been up to!?  Here are some highlights from my first ten days in Phnom Penh…

  • Going to the Russian and Orusey markets to bargain for sheets and towels, soap and shampoo
  • Joining crews of expats at bars on the Riverside and relaxing by the pools off of Norodom
  • Attending the “theater” to see the Phnom Penh Players perform a cabaret
  • Sitting in the shade or AC of coffee shops sipping Khmer coffee – strong coffee on ice with sweetened condensed milk –  to evade the 100 degree weather
  • Sweating at the AC-free office while learning about the Cambodian legal system and way of life from my colleagues
  • Dancing (and sweating) like mad at the Pontoon club floating on the River and a glimpse of the popular TinyTunes breakdancing crew

Breakdancing w/ a few from TinyTunes

  • Taking a tuktuk from the office to evade the daily downpours and street floodings of the rainy season
  • Bicycling to the stadium for a weekly game of patanque – a game similar to Bocce ball, played typically by Cambodian men
  • Haggling with moto drivers and turning down a marriage proposal from one of my regulars
  • Eating dinner at any of the delicious Khmer, Indonesian, Thai, or Euro-American influenced restaurants and off the street vendors while catching-up on interesting and funny foreigner stories of the day
  • Strolling through the Royal Palace and posing in photos per the request of people I do not even know
  • Blowing kisses to the kids I pass on my alley each afternoon while their grandmother laughs hysterically

Monk with Umbrella down the alley

This one’s for my mother, and all other interested parties!

A tour of the very cute, perfect 2br/2bath apartment I share with Marianne down the alley from Street 63 and 184.

Living Room

Free cable TV for watching: the news, the World Cup,  music videos.



Standard Cambodian kitchen stocked with fridge, washer, clothes drying rack, double gas stove, and two sets of dishes.


Room with a view

And down the hall with a bit of that lovely morning light…