Thursday, December 18, 2008

The government calls on Buddhist Monks to Respect Righteous Religion

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim has called on all Buddhist monks and other Buddhist followers to continue to support and maintain the beauty of Cambodia’s national religion, traditional culture, and civilization.

The President made this announcement whilst presiding over the 17th Annual Buddhist Monk Congress. This meeting was arranged by the Ministry of Cults and Religions on December 17-18 and took place at Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh.

According to Chea Sim the Buddhism in Cambodia is in the best of health and being a living, vibrant religion, has many worthy contributions to make.

He added that this is the result of peace, progress and political stability, established by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the Royal Government of Cambodia under the leadership of the Prime Minster Hun Sen.

“Buddhism is a leading social and cultural strength. It is the state religion and has existed in Cambodia since the third century,” he said. “It is as important today as it has ever been that Buddhist monks, nuns, laymen and other believers continue to respect the religion and practice it according to its spirit.”

“I am delighted that Buddhist monks, nuns, laymen and other Buddhist followers have been untainted by corruption and have worked hard to strengthen and promote the culture of peace, tradition, progress and spirituality. These are all creations of Dharma preaching and teaching in Cambodia,” he told the Congress.

The President said that Buddhism provides a shining medium within which the nation can welcome the spirit of cooperation and advance the cause of peace and prosperity. This medium is illuminated from within by Buddhism. It serves as a lantern to guide the faithful towards moral conduct and spirit; it also shines a light into the darkest corners, leaving no shadows within which rancor, jealousy and violence can hide.

“I appeal to all Buddhist monks and followers of other religions such as Christianity and Islam to behave after the pattern of righteousness. In this manner we will all live in a country that is peaceful, stable and righteous. With these qualities working on our side, prosperity and abundance will surely shine in Cambodia,” he said.

“I declare that the Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to respecting the freedom of belief and religion, within the scope of promoting Buddhism and facilitating cooperation between religions. This will encourage basic solidarity between the peoples leading to political stability and social order. In short we oppose all discriminatory practices against any religions in Cambodia.”

The President noted that the study of Buddhism has contributed to Cambodian scholarship in general. Monks serve as strong pillars to society, contributing ideas to maintain traditional culture and civilization, both of which are keys to national identification.

He said that to promote the Buddhism, the government will be paying more attention to the study of Buddhism study and the training of Monks. There is to be a strengthening of the quality of the Monkhood, with leadership studies to play a central role. There is also to be an increase in the number of pagodas in both the cities and the countryside.

Min Khin, Minister of Cults and Religions, said that in recent years, there were many complaints about the behavior of Buddhist monks in Cambodia. Khin also referred to the many conflicts that had arisen over the years between the heads of Buddhist Pagodas and laymen or nuns in the temples.

The Minister noted that these conflicts happened because of the envy, bad blood and conflict of interests. He said that these profane incidents had necessarily had an impact on the soul of Buddhism and the religion’s adherents in Cambodia.

The Minister said that to strengthen and promote the Buddhism in Cambodia, the Ministry of Cults and Religion, in collaboration with the highest ranking members of the Monkhood have been laboring to strengthen discipline, structural leadership, pagoda governance, Buddhist study and spreading the message of Buddhist Dharma to the people.

The Minister continued that his ministry will continue with the implementation of the Cambodian Government’s Rectangular Strategy in order to maintain the peace, political stability and ensure poverty reduction in Cambodia.

He said his ministry has also been conducting meetings with Monks, workshops and annual conferences in Phnom Penh. These meetings have sought new designs and information to control, improve and promote the Buddhism in Cambodia. Regarding the 17th Annual Buddhist Monks Congress 2008, he said that attendance numbered around 800 monks, nuns and laymen from 24 cities and provinces.

He said that the conference would examine the entire spectrum of the Monk’s activities, responsibilities and duties. It provided the ideal environment for the exchange of ideas and news of improved methodologies to be used in the advancement of Buddhism in Cambodia.

“I strongly believe that through such activities as these, we can maintain, develop and strengthen our Buddhist monks and followers. They are to be trained in the steps necessary to ensure the perfect expression of the religion in Cambodia,” he said. “I am also confident we will able to maintain and generate the culture of peace, political stability, solidarity and development through the work of Buddhism. I believe this work will have repercussions throughout eternity.”

In closing the Congress, Prime Minister Hun Sen has appealed all Cambodian Buddhist Monks to respect “the Rule of Buddha”, following revelations of a series of crimes involving monks.Samdech Hun Sen said, “Buddhist monks should respect the “Rule of Buddha” and they should never be involved with activities that bring our national religion into disrepute.”
The Prime Minister said, “If a Monk makes dispute I will not help and I will turn my back. Monks should never blame citizens when they lose confidence in Buddhist monks.”
Min Khin said that according to report, a total of 11 Buddhist monks have been charged with robbery, rape and murder in 2008.

According to a Ministry report, modern Cambodia is a spiritually active nation. There are a total of 4,307 pagodas housing 55,583 Buddhist monks; in addition, there are 244 Muslim Masjids catering to 320,167 believers; there are 25 Churches for Catholic worshippers, numbering 8707 believers and 218 Protestant Chapels in Cambodia.

Birds Flu Outbreaks Threatened Businesses in Phnom Penh

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has ordered to stop the sale and as well as transporting the chickens and ducks from about three kilometers radius for 30 says inspection period, especially Doeum Roeus commune, Kandal Stung district, Kandal province, said officials.

Kao Phal, Director of Animal Health and Food Production Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (MoAFF), said on December 17, his authorities have issued an official announcement to stop the sale of chickens. He said the announcement was made after the area investigation was done by the MoAFF and Health Ministry Officials following the exposure of one case of a 19-year-old man on November 28.

He told the Cambodia Weekly that the Ministry decided to kill about 400 chickens and would continue with more chickens and ducks in the area in order to contain the spread of the virus, which experts fear could mutate into a more dangerous form for human beings.Dr. Ly Sovann, Deputy Director of the Disease Outbreak Department of the Ministry of Health, said that there were areas that had been affected by the disease, but it had not mutated into something more dangerous for human being.

Dr. Sovann said that so far, over 200 villagers from Kandal Steung district, in Kandal province and Samrong Torng district, in Kampong Speu province have tested and consulted for avian influenza in provincial health centers and Calmette Hospital, in Phnom Penh.

He continued that as a result, all villagers who have passed a blood test, are negative for avian influenza. He emphasized that so far, there is only one man who has a H5N1 “bird flu” virus affection in Cambodia, in 2008.

He said that the victim was recovering and but still staying at Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh. He explained that the avian influenza, carried in wild and domestic birds by the H5N1 virus, has symptoms that include fever, cough, muscle ache and sore throat. It can be deadly to human beings.

According to the Ministry of Health’s report, since 2005 until today there are a total of 7 Cambodian people killed by Bird Flu in Cambodia.

Many poultry farms have confirmed that their businesses under threats after the Cambodian government’ officials recently announced about the H5N1 “bird flu” virus in occurred at a poultry farm located in Kandal Stung district, Kandal province. And caused a 19-year-old man had been lived with the virus last month.

The duck and chicken vendors said that they have been lost a lot of money from their sale since the “bird flu” outbreaks has been spreading out for publics in late November 2008.

Aun Ry, 56, a vendor of a Poultry farm in Kraing Angkrorng Village, Kraing Thnuong Commune, Dangkor district, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, said he has been lost a lot of money from the sale of chickens and ducks since the “bird flu” has been heard in Cambodia.

He said that nowadays there are about 12,000 chickens and 8,000 ducks in his farm. But now he is not able to sell out the poultry to his clients at every market in Phnom Penh. He said that before the outbreak of “Bird Flu”, he could be sold out at least 400$ per day, but now he is able to make money from $100 to $300 per day.

“If the virus is still spreading out, and I am afraid that my daily business would be shut down and I will also loose a lot of moneys,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

Loeng Kimsreng, 49, A poultry farm’s vendor in Thnal Tor Toeng commune, Samrong Tong district, Kampong Speu province, said his business has also been faced collapsing following the infection of one man-bird flu occurred in Kandal province last month.

Kimsreng said that about 5,000 chickens in his poultry farm. He said that in order to create his own business, he spent a total of US $3,000 as he had borrowed this money from the ACLEDA Bank in Kampong Speu province.

He pointed out that last week, due to the presence of Bird Flu virus and some of his chickens were sick, he destroyed about 300 chickens in his farm.

“I think that if the Bird Flu is still spreading out in Kampong Speu province, I would loose every thing and I will become as a debtor of the ACELDA Bank,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

Ly Sinath, 41, a chicken vendor in Orussey market in Phnom Penh, said her business has been declined in recent weeks after the Bird Flu confirmed outbreaks in Cambodia.

“My chicken selling is declined now after the outbreak of Bird Flu virus in Kandal province,” she said. “Before the outbreak of virus, I was able to sell at least from 50 to 80 chickens per day. But now, I am able to sell only from 30 to 50 a day.”

She added,” I think that if the Bird Flu virus is existing in Cambodia, I will stop selling the chickens. However, I will consider to find another business for sales in this market.”

Yun Savy, 45, another chicken vendor in Deumkor market in Phnom Penh, said that her chicken selling has also been declining, recently. “My selling of chickens is not so good now because the buyers are afraid of the Bird Flu,” she said.

Last month, she sold out and earned from 80,000 riel to 200,000 riel a day. But now, she is able to make money for around 50,000 riel to 100,000 riel per day.


Government Clears Private Clinic Ambulances from Roads

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The Ministry of Health has issued a directive to curb the operations of certain ambulance services. Rogue operators are patrolling the streets and grabbing victims of traffic accidents to take them to private clinics. Whilst the victim may be incapacitated, they are nevertheless to be offered rational medical attention best fitting the scenario. Narrow and unseemly commercial considerations on the other hand should not be considered a priority in an emergency situation, according to the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Heng Taykry, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health, said that the directive is to eliminate the uncontrolled practice of peeling traffic accident victims off the street and transporting them to private clinics that may be too far away or improperly equipped to really help a victim. This system depends on a network of tipsters in the employ of various private clinics. These people report the location of road accidents and ambulances are dispatched, irrespective of the possibility of there being a better equipped clinic nearer to the scene of the accident.

The Secretary of State said that the directive addresses the growing problem of ambulance pay schemes to tipsters or traffic policemen looking to make a fast buck out of someone else’s misfortune. Taykry noted that for the directive to be most effective, cooperation from the public would be necessary. He also noted that the directive was fully supported by the Prime Minister, whose sharp words on the topic illustrate his deep disdain for the practice.

“To ensure the safety of victims and protect them against being grabbed by opportunist ambulance crews, the Ministry has placed a ban on all private clinics sending their ambulances to accident sites in Phnom Penh,” he told the Cambodia Weekly by telephone.

He continued by saying that those private clinics that do violate the Ministry’s directive, will be shut down and their license revoked. He added that the order has been in effect as of December 1, 2008. As of now, traffic police and other related organizations are empowered to prevent private ambulances reaching the scene of an accident in the streets of Phnom Penh.

Chhorn Nareth, Chief of Calmette Hospital’s Ambulance Services, said that under previous conditions, a traffic accident was often the occasion of conflict. Private ambulance crews argued between themselves whilst the accident victim continued to suffer at their feet, the crew’s desire for profitability far outweighing the urge to alleviate pain and save life.

“I hope that after this order has been validated, we will see an end to this growing problem with the ambulance services. The level of chaos caused by a traffic accident in the city is already bad enough without ambulance drivers adding to it by squabbling over cash.” he said.

He noted in passing that Calmette Hospital has a fleet of 35 ambulances to cover Phnom Penh. He stated they are on call 24 hours a day and our readers can find contact information for them on page 10 in the Cambodia Weekly.

Tin Proseu, Chief of the Municipal Traffic Police Office with the Ministry of Interior, has expressed his full support for the Ministry of Health’s order.

“I appreciate both the sentiments and the practical considerations that have produced the ministry’s order. It provides a solid solution to an unacceptable situation and will help our official crews enhance their already selfless and impressive performance through more experience; and anything that can reduce the disruption of the accident site is to be welcomed.”

He continued, “To implement this order, traffic police are empowered to stop all private clinic ambulance crews approaching the scene.”
Khieu Sary, 45, a teacher at private school in Phnom Penh and reluctant consumer of ambulance services, welcomed the order, the memory of bitter experience adding conviction to his words.

Sary said that in March 2007, he was involved in a traffic accident at Psar Teuk Thla while he was returning to his house in Sangkat Cham Chao, Khan Dangkor. Incredibly, during the event, he stated there were three ambulances from different private clinics arguing over his broken body. One can only imagine his thoughts during the half hour it took for the argument to be settled and his arrival at a hospital bed in Sangkat Kbal Thnal, Khan Chamcarmon, some 15 kilometers from the scene of the accident.

This journey cost him 80,000 riel (about 10$) on top of the $100 bill he received for the medical care.

Ly Seng Chan, Director of Chan Reah Private Clinic in Phnom Penh. Established in 1996, he hinted that he used to have two ambulances to deal with road traffic accidents. However, all his ambulance services have been suspended since the order was given earlier this month. He said that the directive had naturally affected his daily business and that of his competitors in Phnom Penh.

He said, “However, we have no choice and cannot oppose it. Thus, we have to obey it and hopefully develop our ambulance service systems so as to provide a truly complementary service for accident victims.”

He added according to his records, from1996 to November 2008, his Chan Reah clinic had received an average of 20 traffic accident victims per day. ////

Government Adopts Measures to Combat Climate Change

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Prach Sun, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment (MoE), said his government has banded together with the wider international community to fight climate change and mitigate its impact.

“We know that climate change is a global environmental issue which has negative impact regionally and globally, particularly in developing countries like Cambodia, where many people rely on natural resources for their livelihoods,” he said.

The Secretary of State continued that his ministry, through the Cambodia Climate Change Office (CCCO) has been working closely with national and international partners to enforce protocol and to support the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

The Ministry of Environment has been working with United Nations agencies and other organizations to carry out projects related to climate change in preparation for the initial national communication on Cambodia's greenhouse gas emissions.

The national projects have been designed to conform to CDM criteria as well as domestic considerations shaped to help Cambodia weather the worst of climate change. Another priority is the advancement of climate change awareness.

He said that the Government ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1995, and signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 and has been an active participant in climate change forums and the like.

Last week, GERES Cambodia launched a collection of “Climate Change Songs”. At the same time, Cambodia signed up to the Carbon Solidarity Asia (CSA) movement. The event was held at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC), Phnom Penh.

Nop Polin, Climate Change Communication Officer of GERES Cambodia, said that the main purpose of the event was to raise climate change awareness for Cambodians through media organizations and other development partners.

“We know that younger Cambodians are fond of a good tune and we have combined this love with an opportunity to spread the message of climate change. Thus, these Climate Change Songs, along with their accompanying video clips fuse entertainment with education in an effort to get them to change their daily behavior,” Polin said.

He said the weather is experiencing violent extremes with brutal heat waves followed by prolonged spells of cold, blustery weather. Rainfall has also been affected with drought interrupted by sharp deluges. These phenomena are increasingly believed to be the product of climate change. The usual climate change suspects have been named, including factory pollution and the denaturing of the ecosystem produced by widespread chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Organizations such as hotels and restaurants have also received criticism for failure to adopt energy saving practices.

“I hope this will provide just one more weapon in the fight against these changes,” he told the Cambodia Weekly. He added, “I note that currently Cambodia is experiencing the effects of climate change and these changes are becoming more noticeable year after year.”

Minh Cuong Le Quan, Director of the Climate Change Unit of GERES Cambodia, said the world is waking up to the dangers posed by climate change. But resources to combat the extremes are not flowing as freely as they might. There is also a need for ethical investments in businesses.

The Director said that membership of CSA will help the billions of people most affected by the negative impacts of climate change. He added that simple technologies like improved cooking stoves are affordable and have the potential to reduce the production of large quantities of greenhouse gases whilst providing numerous benefits to the users.

He emphasized that CSA represents opportunity for institutions and businesses. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that engagement with environmental and social issues is a hugely important factor in developing brand awareness. Companies who buy credit from from CSA can claim to be socially responsible and aware of their commitments to the greater society.

Prach Sun has strongly supported GERES Cambodia in producing a series of measures to combat the climate change in Cambodia. He said that the launching the collection of songs would raise awareness and encourage a change in daily habits.

“Climate change is a multi skill and sector issue. Participation and facilitation among stakeholders is necessary to ensure the success of implementation of all mitigation measures in response to climate change. In this regard, the Ministry of Environment would like to request collaboration among all stakeholders toward addressing climate change effectively,” he said.

Nop Polin, said that to combat the Climate Change in Cambodia, GERES Cambodia has implemented seven projects in Cambodia.

He said that the seven projects included the production of “green” charcoal to restore the environment, turning waste into renewable energy and jobs, bio-energy production projects situated in rural areas to provide work, measures to save energy in the home, rescuing Small and Medium sized Entrepreneurs (SMEs) and institutions threatened by energy access/ costs, and improving habitats with the introduction of low-cost and clean solar passive architecture, and improving livelihoods, nurturing the environment and creating sustainable jobs.

Government plans to Expand Conservational Habitats for Wild Life

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian government has plans to establish conservation habitats for aquatic birds and other animal species to keep them safe from human hunters, according to Thuk Kroeun Vutha, Secretary of State at the Environment Ministry.

“To preserve bird and animal species the government has plans to expand conversation areas to protect natural biodiversity in pristine environments in provinces across the country,” the Secretary of State said during introductory remarks made during the opening of a Workshop. This workshop was held under the banner “Sustainable Control of Aquatic Birds and their Habitats”. It was prepared by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) with help from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries (MoAFF).

The Secretary of State said that according to the master plan, the areas under consideration include stretches of bank surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake and Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Ramsar, located in Stung Treng province.

He continued that Cambodia is a country rich in bird and animal species, as well as exploitable natural resources. These resources are all worthy of preservation for future generations of Cambodians.

“I think that if we can preserve all the bird and animal species and their habitats, then we can attract more tourists to these conservation areas. Apart from this, we can generate work for our people and reduce poverty in Cambodia,” he said.

In recent years, the MoE and MoAFF have collaborated with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to work on conservation projects through the Biodiversity Conservation Project and other forestry protection projects.

He continued that as a result of all the hard work, about 200 species of bird had been found in Cambodia including 10 on the list of critically endangered species, living in wetland areas and naturally protected sites located at Tonle Sap and Ramsar in Stung Treng province.

With a view to generating more support and cooperation from other countries in the region, his ministry has officially registered as a member of the “Partnership for the East-Asian Australian Flyways”. Now Cambodian airspace is a recognized flyway for all bird species in the East-Asian Region.

Nowadays there are over 250 bird species with over 50 million individual birds following routes set out in the “Partnership for the East-Asian Australian Flyways”, said Vutha.


Man Phimean, Chief of the Administration and Forest Protection Office in the MoAFF, said that in order to conserve the wildlife for the next generation people, his government has established conservation areas.

These protected sites such as the Protected Forest for Conservation of Wildlife and Gene Resources covers 429,438 hectares in Mundul Kiri province. A further 190,027 hectares of land around Preah Vihear has also been turned into a wildlife reserve. The Central Cardamom Range claims 401,313 hectares of reservation land, and the Biodiversity Conservation Project has 670,000 hectares in Mondulkiri and Kratie Provinces.

“I note that birds and wild animals will increase in Cambodia after the establishment of conservation areas,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during a personal interview. “We are going to take measures and legal action against hunting and illegal logging in areas where the wildlife finds shelter,” he said.


According to a research conducted this year by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, there are hundreds of species of birds, snakes and other wild animals in Cambodia. These animals fall into one of three categories. The first is “Critically Endangered Species” covering 16 bird and reptile species and 27 mammal species. The second category refers to “Rare Species” covering 45 bird and 4 snake species. The third category refers to animal species under no current threats with hundreds of Cambodia’s native species falling into this category.

Phimean said that so far, his authority confiscated a total of 17,211 birds and wild animals from smugglers in provinces across the country. The birds and wild animals had been released into different zoos and other protected forest areas in Cambodia. He said the authority also seized a total of 41, 770 hectares of land and 230, 732 hectares of forestry land from local forest accession companies, combining this land with existing reservation areas.

He also noted that hunters who killed animals on the “Critically Endangered Species” list can expect up to a ten year prison sentence, with five years for those convicted of killing animals on the “Rare Species” list. Conservation Laws provide for jail terms of up to one year for hunters of animals on the “Normal Species” list.

Kong Kim Sreng, Project Coordinator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN), said that due to the civil war, illegal logging and hunting in Cambodia, many critically endangered or rare species have been hunted to the point of extinction.

However, he noted that the number of birds and wild animals had increased after the Cambodian government and related NGOs formulated the Biodiversity Conservation Project and Protected Forest Resources and Wildlife Conservation.

“I hope that if all people increase their awareness of the importance of Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation and join together to establish the conservational zones, we can conserve the natural habitat for birds and wild animals well beyond the next 15 years,” he said.

Government plans to Expand Conservational Habitats for Wild Life

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian government has plans to establish conservation habitats for aquatic birds and other animal species to keep them safe from human hunters, according to Thuk Kroeun Vutha, Secretary of State at the Environment Ministry.

“To preserve bird and animal species the government has plans to expand conversation areas to protect natural biodiversity in pristine environments in provinces across the country,” the Secretary of State said during introductory remarks made during the opening of a Workshop. This workshop was held under the banner “Sustainable Control of Aquatic Birds and their Habitats”. It was prepared by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) with help from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries (MoAFF).

The Secretary of State said that according to the master plan, the areas under consideration include stretches of bank surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake and Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Ramsar, located in Stung Treng province.

He continued that Cambodia is a country rich in bird and animal species, as well as exploitable natural resources. These resources are all worthy of preservation for future generations of Cambodians.

“I think that if we can preserve all the bird and animal species and their habitats, then we can attract more tourists to these conservation areas. Apart from this, we can generate work for our people and reduce poverty in Cambodia,” he said.

In recent years, the MoE and MoAFF have collaborated with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to work on conservation projects through the Biodiversity Conservation Project and other forestry protection projects.

He continued that as a result of all the hard work, about 200 species of bird had been found in Cambodia including 10 on the list of critically endangered species, living in wetland areas and naturally protected sites located at Tonle Sap and Ramsar in Stung Treng province.

With a view to generating more support and cooperation from other countries in the region, his ministry has officially registered as a member of the “Partnership for the East-Asian Australian Flyways”. Now Cambodian airspace is a recognized flyway for all bird species in the East-Asian Region.

Nowadays there are over 250 bird species with over 50 million individual birds following routes set out in the “Partnership for the East-Asian Australian Flyways”, said Vutha.


Man Phimean, Chief of the Administration and Forest Protection Office in the MoAFF, said that in order to conserve the wildlife for the next generation people, his government has established conservation areas.

These protected sites such as the Protected Forest for Conservation of Wildlife and Gene Resources covers 429,438 hectares in Mundul Kiri province. A further 190,027 hectares of land around Preah Vihear has also been turned into a wildlife reserve. The Central Cardamom Range claims 401,313 hectares of reservation land, and the Biodiversity Conservation Project has 670,000 hectares in Mondulkiri and Kratie Provinces.

“I note that birds and wild animals will increase in Cambodia after the establishment of conservation areas,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during a personal interview. “We are going to take measures and legal action against hunting and illegal logging in areas where the wildlife finds shelter,” he said.


According to a research conducted this year by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, there are hundreds of species of birds, snakes and other wild animals in Cambodia. These animals fall into one of three categories. The first is “Critically Endangered Species” covering 16 bird and reptile species and 27 mammal species. The second category refers to “Rare Species” covering 45 bird and 4 snake species. The third category refers to animal species under no current threats with hundreds of Cambodia’s native species falling into this category.

Phimean said that so far, his authority confiscated a total of 17,211 birds and wild animals from smugglers in provinces across the country. The birds and wild animals had been released into different zoos and other protected forest areas in Cambodia. He said the authority also seized a total of 41, 770 hectares of land and 230, 732 hectares of forestry land from local forest accession companies, combining this land with existing reservation areas.

He also noted that hunters who killed animals on the “Critically Endangered Species” list can expect up to a ten year prison sentence, with five years for those convicted of killing animals on the “Rare Species” list. Conservation Laws provide for jail terms of up to one year for hunters of animals on the “Normal Species” list.

Kong Kim Sreng, Project Coordinator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN), said that due to the civil war, illegal logging and hunting in Cambodia, many critically endangered or rare species have been hunted to the point of extinction.

However, he noted that the number of birds and wild animals had increased after the Cambodian government and related NGOs formulated the Biodiversity Conservation Project and Protected Forest Resources and Wildlife Conservation.

“I hope that if all people increase their awareness of the importance of Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation and join together to establish the conservational zones, we can conserve the natural habitat for birds and wild animals well beyond the next 15 years,” he said.

Cambodian Performance of “Kraithong Kropeur Charavann”

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 20,000 visitors from Phnom Penh and other provinces came to see a Lakhaon Basac performance of an old favorite - “Kraithong Kropeur Charavann” at the National Olympic Stadium on December 10, 2008.

The theater performance was organized by the Cambodian Television Network (CTN) with support from the Randonal Wine Company and CamGSM Company Limited.

The “Kraithong Kropeur Charavann” was performed by a group of Cambodian boxers, film stars and CTN staff members, with a staring role for Choun Chy alias “Kuy”, a famous Comedian, according to Pol Vibo, Deputy Director General of CTN.

Vibo said that “Kraithong Kropeur Charavann” is the one of the best documented of the traditional Cambodian stories, with a film produced in the 1960s in existence. He said that the story has not been retold in theatres since the civil wars in Cambodia.

“This is the first time that CTN has attempted such a project and it aims to conserve and promote the art form for the enjoyment of future generations of Cambodians,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

“Creating entertainment and light-hearted jokes is a central feature of our roll.” he said. “I think that the event has proved to be attractive with audience members from all over Cambodia in attendance.”

Lim Kimsrun, CTN Sales Manager confirmed that the audience on the night reached the 20,000 figure, packing the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh to capacity.

He said that the 18,000 tickets were completely sold out two days in advance of the event of December 10. He added that tickets cost $3.00.

Kimsrun, declined to give details about how much the event made in total, but said that audience figures were increasing steadily and that this event made more profit than previous events organized in 2008.

Yun Chamroeun, a spector living in Phnom Penh, said that he paid US$3 to see the theatre performance.

“I really enjoyed the performance of “Kraithong Kropeur Charavann”. I have never seen such a spectacular entertainment before and the plot was very gripping.” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

Bun Sreymom, another member of the audience from Kandal province, said she also enjoyed the theater performance.

She said, “I was happy to hear all the old “Kraithong Kropeur Charavann” jokes again. I hope that I will be seeing other interesting Khmer traditional theatre productions from CTN in future.”

Cambodia Government calls on Buddhist Monks to Respect Righteous Religion

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim has called on all Buddhist monks and other Buddhist followers to continue to support and maintain the beauty of Cambodia’s national religion, traditional culture, and civilization.

The President made this announcement whilst presiding over the 17th Annual Buddhist Monk Congress. This meeting was arranged by the Ministry of Cults and Religions on December 17-18 and took place at Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh.

According to Chea Sim the Buddhism in Cambodia is in the best of health and being a living, vibrant religion, has many worthy contributions to make.

He added that this is the result of peace, progress and political stability, established by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the Royal Government of Cambodia under the leadership of the Prime Minster Hun Sen.

“Buddhism is a leading social and cultural strength. It is the state religion and has existed in Cambodia since the third century,” he said. “It is as important today as it has ever been that Buddhist monks, nuns, laymen and other believers continue to respect the religion and practice it according to its spirit.”

“I am delighted that Buddhist monks, nuns, laymen and other Buddhist followers have been untainted by corruption and have worked hard to strengthen and promote the culture of peace, tradition, progress and spirituality. These are all creations of Dharma preaching and teaching in Cambodia,” he told the Congress.

The President said that Buddhism provides a shining medium within which the nation can welcome the spirit of cooperation and advance the cause of peace and prosperity. This medium is illuminated from within by Buddhism. It serves as a lantern to guide the faithful towards moral conduct and spirit; it also shines a light into the darkest corners, leaving no shadows within which rancor, jealousy and violence can hide.

“I appeal to all Buddhist monks and followers of other religions such as Christianity and Islam to behave after the pattern of righteousness. In this manner we will all live in a country that is peaceful, stable and righteous. With these qualities working on our side, prosperity and abundance will surely shine in Cambodia,” he said.

“I declare that the Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to respecting the freedom of belief and religion, within the scope of promoting Buddhism and facilitating cooperation between religions. This will encourage basic solidarity between the peoples leading to political stability and social order. In short we oppose all discriminatory practices against any religions in Cambodia.”

The President noted that the study of Buddhism has contributed to Cambodian scholarship in general. Monks serve as strong pillars to society, contributing ideas to maintain traditional culture and civilization, both of which are keys to national identification.

He said that to promote the Buddhism, the government will be paying more attention to the study of Buddhism study and the training of Monks. There is to be a strengthening of the quality of the Monkhood, with leadership studies to play a central role. There is also to be an increase in the number of pagodas in both the cities and the countryside.

Min Khin, Minister of Cults and Religions, said that in recent years, there were many complaints about the behavior of Buddhist monks in Cambodia. Khin also referred to the many conflicts that had arisen over the years between the heads of Buddhist Pagodas and laymen or nuns in the temples.

The Minister noted that these conflicts happened because of the envy, bad blood and conflict of interests. He said that these profane incidents had necessarily had an impact on the soul of Buddhism and the religion’s adherents in Cambodia.

The Minister said that to strengthen and promote the Buddhism in Cambodia, the Ministry of Cults and Religion, in collaboration with the highest ranking members of the Monkhood have been laboring to strengthen discipline, structural leadership, pagoda governance, Buddhist study and spreading the message of Buddhist Dharma to the people.

The Minister continued that his ministry will continue with the implementation of the Cambodian Government’s Rectangular Strategy in order to maintain the peace, political stability and ensure poverty reduction in Cambodia.

He said his ministry has also been conducting meetings with Monks, workshops and annual conferences in Phnom Penh. These meetings have sought new designs and information to control, improve and promote the Buddhism in Cambodia. Regarding the 17th Annual Buddhist Monks Congress 2008, he said that attendance numbered around 800 monks, nuns and laymen from 24 cities and provinces.

He said that the conference would examine the entire spectrum of the Monk’s activities, responsibilities and duties. It provided the ideal environment for the exchange of ideas and news of improved methodologies to be used in the advancement of Buddhism in Cambodia.

“I strongly believe that through such activities as these, we can maintain, develop and strengthen our Buddhist monks and followers. They are to be trained in the steps necessary to ensure the perfect expression of the religion in Cambodia,” he said. “I am also confident we will able to maintain and generate the culture of peace, political stability, solidarity and development through the work of Buddhism. I believe this work will have repercussions throughout eternity.”

In closing the Congress, Prime Minister Hun Sen has appealed all Cambodian Buddhist Monks to respect “the Rule of Buddha”, following revelations of a series of crimes involving monks.

Samdech Hun Sen said, “Buddhist monks should respect the “Rule of Buddha” and they should never be involved with activities that bring our national religion into disrepute.”

The Prime Minister said, “If a Monk makes dispute I will not help and I will turn my back. Monks should never blame citizens when they lose confidence in Buddhist monks.”

Min Khin said that according to report, a total of 11 Buddhist monks have been charged with robbery, rape and murder in 2008.

According to a Ministry report, modern Cambodia is a spiritually active nation. There are a total of 4,307 pagodas housing 55,583 Buddhist monks; in addition, there are 244 Muslim Masjids catering to 320,167 believers; there are 25 Churches for Catholic worshippers, numbering 8707 believers and 218 Protestant Chapels in Cambodia.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Khmer Gastronomy Competition being held in Phnom Penh

By BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Khmer Gastronomy Festival was held on December 5 at the National Cultural Center in Phnom Penh. The festival was organized by Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA).
A total of 41 Cambodian cooks including 5 male competitors, all of them professional chefs from 13 cities and provinces across the country attended the competition.
“It is the 9th time that the ministry has organized this cooking event to show the people in Cambodia, how the best of our national cuisine is made “, said Him Chhaem, Minister of MoCFA. He said, “The main purpose of the cooking competition is to promote our culinary heritage, with special attention paid to regional foods from each province and city in the Kingdom of Cambodia.” He added,” Another objective of the event is to document and conserve all Khmer traditional cultural foods for enjoyment by the next generation.”
He said that according to MoCFA documents, Cambodia can boast of hundreds of traditional dishes all of them a delight to the palate and each one a direct connection to the dinner tables of the nation’s ancestors. However, during the tumultuous years of the second half of the twentieth century, some styles of Khmer food had been completely lost, as were the chefs who knew how to cook it.
He said, “I hope that through this event, we can help our Cambodian cooks to get a better understanding of the subtle combination of herbs and spices that constitute the soul of Cambodian cuisine. I also hope that we see some of the rarer examples of out nation’s food being sold in restaurants for both national and international tourists in Cambodia.”
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The 13th International Marathon Held in Siem Reap

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia has organized the 13th International Marathon, scheduled for December 7. The event is to be held in Siem Reap province, site of the Angkor Wat temple complex and one of the richest sites of cultural interest in the world, according to Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and the Chairman of National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC).
The Minister revealed that about 2,200 athletes including over 800 participants from 31 other countries have signed up to take part in the International Marathon. He said that last year about 2,000 athletes had competed in the Siem Reap race.

“This is the centerpiece sporting event for the whole year and this year marks the 13th occasion that the Marathon has been run.” said the Minister. “The marathon race will not only bring glory to the winner, but it will also promote tourism in the region.”

Meas Sarin, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), and Secretary General of the NOCC, said that the marathon will also be an opportunity for participants to raise sponsorship to help improve the conditions of landmine victims in Cambodia.

The competition also aims to promote the half marathon sporting discipline and encourage the introduction of international standards to help the nation’s runners, Sarin said. He too mentioned the stimulus the competition would provide to the tourist sector as the runner’s route takes them through the heart of Cambodia’s temple sites.

The Secretary General said that the race has been organized by MoEYS with input from the Ministry of Tourism, and the NOCC. Further assistance was provided by provincial Athletics Authorities and the Apsara Authority.

Chhoun Leng, Deputy Director of Student Physical Education and Sports with MoEYS, said that the race will take place around the extensive Angkor Wat temple complex.

There will be over 1,500 Cambodian marathon runners from cities and provinces across the country and they will all be participating in the 13th International Marathon on a volunteer basis, according to Chhoun Leng.

He continued that the marathon will be divided into two categories; the first category is for professional half-marathon runners. They will be running for a distance of 21 kilometers around Angkor Wat. He added that the second category is for the amateur runner or volunteers. Here, male runners will be asked to clock up 10 kilometers with their female counterparts slogging it out for an additional 5 kilometers.

He pointed out that there will be the usual gold, silver and bronze medals for first, second and third placed runners, with additional prizes all provided by the Heart of Gold from Japan.

The Minister Thong Khon said that beside the international marathon race, his ministry has also planned to host the Asia Golf Tour which will take place in Siem Reap from 11th to 14th December. He said according to the ministry plan, at least 200 golf players from over 30 countries will be attending the Asia Golf Tour in Siem Reap province.

He emphasized that the main purpose of the Asia Golf Tour events was also to promote the tourism industry in Cambodia amid the world economic crisis and the current border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand.

“We hope that through these sports events, we may help Cambodia counter the negative effects posed by the financial recession and the current border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over the kingdom's tourism industry,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

He said that tourism is one of the key industries of the Kingdom of Cambodia. However, he also said that due to the world economic crisis, the ministry has lowered it expectations for tourist arrivals for 2008. New predictions read 2.1 million, down from the original 2.7 million.

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Cambodia Celebrates Khmer Kites Flying Festival

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Over 70 kite flyers from 15 different cities and provinces across the country have attended the Khmer Kite Flying Festival on December 5 in Phnom Penh. The festival took place at Samdech Hun Sen Park on the banks of the river and was organized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA).

Minh Kosny, Secretary of State with MoCFA, said that this was the 12th such festival organized in Phnom Penh.

“The main purpose of the event is to demonstrate the skill of the flyers and the beauty of their kites. We hope that the younger generation of spectators will be encouraged to take the hobby up for themselves, thus preserving this ancient art for future generations. The event will also help us choose flyers for competition both here and in future international competitions,” she said.

The Secretary of State said that Khmer kite flying is an important symbol of Khmer identity. She added that its history dates back over 400 years to the Fu-nan period, also known as the Nokor Phnom generation.

She continued that traditionally, the festival was also a ceremony of thanksgiving to Preah Peay the spirit of the winds. This important deity was responsible for bringing the rains to water the paddy fields and creating good weather when farmers wanted to harvest subsidiary crops from the forest.

In days gone by, the festival always took place outside the temple or pagoda to celebrate Buddhist religious festivals such as the creation ceremony enacted during the Kathen festival, according to Kosny.

She pointed out that since 1859 the Khmer Kites Flying Festivals had been in decline and had been completely abandoned after the death of Preah Ang Duong, former King of Cambodia. The tradition suffered further outrage during the decades of civil war, when the majority of historical documents relating to kites and kite festivals were destroyed.

However, after much hard work and research conducted by MoCFA, the Khmer Kite Flying Festival resumed its rightful place in the heart of the nation in 1994.

“I am very proud to have been involved with the re-establishment of the festival. It has been successfully conserved and future generations will thrill to the sight of a kite flying in Cambodian skies.” she said. “I hope that the festival will also gain popularity with tourists, thus strengthening and illuminating the Khmer identity for people to see across the world.”

Dek Sarin, Director of the Cultural Development Department with MoCFA, said that the Khmer kites had been developed to produce a more aerobatic display and that these graceful, colorful creations had influenced kite makers across the world. He said that since 1994, MoCFA had organized 12 Khmer kite-flying competitions nationwide.

He said that Cambodian Kite-flyers had been sent to participate in 43 international competitions, 19 of which were held in Europe, with the remaining 34 competitions taking place closer to home in the ASEAN region.

He told The Cambodia Weekly that in May 2007, MoCFA sent a Cambodian team to attend an international kite-flying competition in China. The team came in third place, winning them the bronze medal and plenty of international acclaim. Cambodians were also present in India in July this year, again pulling in a bronze medal.


Kim Vun, 59, a farmer from Ksarch Kandal district, Kandal province, and kite flying expert said that he was happy to attend Festival in Phnom Penh, this year.

Vun said,” On the occasion of the 12th festival, I am overjoyed to win first class, a gold medal, along with 300,000 riel award from the competition.”

He said, “Last year, I won a bronze medal from the competition and 200,000 riels.”

Results from this year’s competition are just in: Kim Vun from Kandal province won the first class in competition, Pao Ratanak, 54, from Kampot province won the second class, and March Chreoung from Kampong Speu province won the third class award.

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