Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Peou Sopeak has Ambitious Goals


One of the University of Cambodia’s Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship students, Peou Sopheak, 19, has provided an interview to the Cambodia Weekly on February 19. Sopeak was born in 1988 in Phnom Penh and has two sisters and one brother. He is now studying International Relations at the University of Cambodia (UC).

Sopeak passed the scholarship exams offered by the University of Cambodia and the Institute of Foreign Language in Phnom Penh in 2008.

“I am very happy because I passed the scholarship exams from the University of Cambodia and Institute of Foreign Language in 2008. I think that I passed the two scholarship exams because of my study and hard work,” he told the Cambodia Weekly on February 19.

Sopheak pointed out that he studied at the Indratevy High School in Phnom Penh, earning a Baccalaureate in 2008. He applied to study International Relations at UC following the introduction of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship in 2008.

“I think that to thank the University of Cambodia and the Royal University of Cambodia I will study hard to reach my Bachelor’s degree goal. I will then continue to study for Master’s and Doctoral degrees with the University of Cambodia,” he added.

Soheak pointed out that to achieve his goal, he now studies very hard and reads many books related to his studies every day. Other research sources include the internet, foreign newspapers and magazines.

“I decided to study International Relations at the University of Cambodia because I know that UC is the best university in Cambodia. They will help me become future leader in Cambodia. My dream is to be the Cambodian Ambassador to the Unites States of America. If I am able to be a leader or Ambassador in future I will work hard for the benefit of my people and country,” he added.

Sopheak also said that besides his study, he is now looking for internships or part-time work with national and international Non-Governmental Organizations in Cambodia. He wants intern work so that he can learn about working and other office skills and gain useful experience prior to graduation.

He continued “My dream is also to obtain a higher degree in International Relations in future. The reason that I wish to obtain a higher degree is because I realize that learning never stops and I am eager to update myself with new knowledge and experiences, as only these can make me academically strong,”

Sin Sovanrattana, 18, a first year student of the Institute of Foreign Language and personal friend to Peou Sopheak, said she appreciated Sopheak’s capacity for hard work.

“I have known Peou Sopheak since he was studying with me at the Kindergarten and Indratevy High School in Phnom Penh. He is very smart, gentle and friendly,” she told the Cambodia Weekly. Sovanrattana continued that Sopheak is the most outstanding student in his class and she is very proud to know him.

“I hope that Sopheak will realize his dreams and become a future leader for Cambodia. I wish him all success in future,” she told the Cambodia Weekly.

Khmer Traditional Art Painting Exhibition


The Khmer Traditional Arts Paintings Exhibition will open its doors for ten days over 19th to 28th February in Phnom Penh. The venue will be the Department of Plastic Arts and Handicrafts in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. It was organized by Chhim Sothy, professional painter, with support from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA).

“I am proud to be involved with such a rich and wide ranging exhibition,” said Meng Hour, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. “I think these paintings will provide an insight for both national and international visitors into the importance and values of Khmer identification and culture,” he said.

The Secretary of State added that the exhibition had helped his ministry place the preservation of traditional arts and culture back into the spotlight highlighted the value of the arts and handcrafts in Cambodia.

“I support his art works and I appeal to national and international visitors to buy his paintings as they are valuable artifacts of Cambodian culture,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during the event.

Artist Chhim Sothy, said there are over 40 paintings on display in the galleries. Sothy said that he executed these works in the traditional style over the course of a year.

The painter noted that all paintings depicted scenes of the Ramayana and incidents in Buddhist History. He said that the paintings range in size from 40 cm x 50 cm up to 101 cm x 142 cm. He added that the paintings cost between US$200 and US$1,500 per piece.

“This is the first exhibition of my paintings in the Department of Plastic Arts and Handcrafts,” he said. “The main objective of the exhibition is to promote my achievements and to sell my works to make money for further preservation in the world of Khmer arts and culture” he added.

A Japanese visitor, Michiharu Handa, 45 spoke of his interest in the works.

“I am highly impressed with the works on display here and I think I will be taking one home for my family”.

Chhim Sothy was born in Kandal province in 1969 and he had graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, in 1996.

He worked in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts from 1998-1999, applying his talents to landscape and furniture design. In 1999, he worked on a project with UNESCO Phnom Penh dealing with various aspects of the Khmer arts.

Sothy’s style reflects traditional sources combined with contemporary elements. Recently, he has tried breaking away from lessons learned in his student years to form his own manner of expression in paint. He often chooses to depict Buddhist themes or scenes from the Ramayana.

His works can be found in Cambodian collections as well as in France and Japan. He was chosen by ASEAN in 2000 to represent Cambodia. Art historians can find many of his works reproduced in Asian Art News, January-February, 2001.

Cambodian Children will join Homeless World Cup


Cambodia plans to send a team of five “vulnerable” child football players to the “Homeless World Cup Competition” scheduled for September 2009. This international competition will take place in Italy, according to Py Sophon, Country Director of the Riverkid Foundation Project, a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) formed in 2007.

The Country Director said there are over 50 vulnerable children training very hard every weekend at Boeng Trabaek High School in Phnom Penh. He said all the contenders are former street children and orphans and they are currently unable to go school.

“We are going to send the five children to the Homeless World Cup 2009, and the main objective of participation is to compete with foreign teams to gain honor and medals back to Cambodia,” he told the Cambodia Weekly February 18.

The Country Director said the children were collected from streets and dumpsites in Phnom Penh and they are now receiving financial support from three NGOs – the Riverkids Foundation Project, the Center for Children’s Happiness and Happy Football Cambodia-Australia (HFCA).

“The Homeless World Cup offers the real opportunity to learn football skills and acquire competition experience that will hopefully lead to a new life as purposeful team players for society and leaders in Cambodia’s future,” he said.

Chao Vibol, General Manager of the Happy Football Cambodia-Australia, said that this marked the second time that Cambodia will send the children to participate in international football competitions abroad.

The General Manager said that last year, with financial support from HFCA sponsors, Cambodia sent five child sports stars to attend the Homeless World Cup 2008 in Melbourn, Australia.

He said that this competition yielded one bronze medal for the brave Cambodian team members. He said in last year’s competition, a total of 56 countries attended the Homeless World Cup.

“I am very proud of our Cambodian children players. I think that although they came from the streets and the dumpsites, they really have a good foundation of football knowledge. They are able to compete with experienced foreign football players and win medals for our country,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

The General Manager emphasized that to prepare for the international competition, all contenders were training very hard every Saturday and Sunday in Phnom Penh.
He said that training was conducted by HFCA coaches, with strong support from the Cambodian Football Federation (CCF). Training takes place at Boeng Trabek High School.

“I hope that with hard work, patience and previous playing experience abroad, they will be able to win more medals when they join future international football competitions,” he said. “I hope that they will become a solid team and provide a foundation for future football success in Cambodia,” he added.

According to Py Sophon, since the establishment of the Riverkids Foundation Project in 2007, over 300 less well-to-do children have received football training and study in Phnom Penh. He added that all children have received financial support from his organization and have been sent to study at state schools in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia Cracks Down on Pornography


The Cambodian Red Cross President and Honorary President of the National Committee for Social Morality, Women’s Values and Khmer Family Values, Bun Rany Hun Sen, has appealed to relevant authorities to take action in combating pornography. Recently, the production of this material has been on the increase in Phnom Penh.

The President Bun Rany said that inappropriate movies were show regularly in private coffee shops across the nation, in addition to the pictures that have been published in magazines for sale nationwide.

“Pornography is a contributing factor in cases of rape and trafficking and this is especially infuriating when the victims are children,” she said during opening remarks delivered to the National Committee’s Annual Congress on February 16 in Phnom Penh.

The President said pornography is also spread across the country via mobile phones. She said these activities should be eradicated as they undermine Khmer culture and traditions and create an environment within which rape and human trafficking flourishes.

“In cases where male relatives abuse the children under their care, the abusers have generally been exposed to pornographic material at coffee shops prior to the crime. To save our women, our children and our culture, we have to address this matter seriously,” she said.

The President pointed out that in recent years rape has been on the increase in Cambodia with many of the victims being murdered. The president pointed to this as an illustration of the decline in Cambodia’s sense of social morality.

“I appeal to all competent authorities involved to cooperate in taking strict measures and actions to crack down on the spread of pornography in Cambodia,” she said. “I also appeal specifically to the Ministry of Information to take action against the pornographic magazines which continue to be published in Cambodia,” she added.

Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women’s Affairs strongly supported the President’s comments, adding that according to Ministry research conducted in 2008, these crimes had increased.

The Minister agreed that responsibility for the prevalence of rape in Cambodia rested in large part with the pornography industry. She said that to address the issue, the Ministry of Wowen’s Affairs, in collaboration with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, had closed 36 pornographic websites.

“I think pornography undermines the honor and integrity of Cambodian women and society. We will not allow pornographic websites to continue and we will take action to protect and preserve Cambodian women’s reputation and social morality,” she told the Cambodia Weekly by telephone February 17.

The Minister said that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications are going to identify other offensive websites and close them down.

Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information and also Spokesman for the Royal Government of Cambodia, supports Bun Rany Hun Sen’s appeal and has recently invited publishers of the “Khmer Samey Thmey” (Khmer New Era) to provide advice as the questionable articles and pornographic pictures have been displayed in every publication thus far.

The Minister continued that last year, his ministry invited many local magazine publishers and editor-in-chief to meetings, advising them against publishing immoral material.

The Ministry also issued regulations to the state and private television, demanding strict monitoring of their programming to ensure demure costumes on air.

Him Chhem, Minister for Culture and Fine Arts, said that he, in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior, will confiscate pornographic DVDs wherever they are found.

So far, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has confiscated a total of 86, 323 DVDs of a pornographic nature, according to a report released by Him Chhem.

The Minister said these DVDs were seized in nine provinces including Phnom Penh, Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pailin, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang and Kandal.

Cambodia-Vietnam-Lao Literacy Authors Conference


The Literary Author’s Conference for Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao will be held over 5 days from 19th-23rd February in Phnom Penh. The conference is organized by the Khmer Writers’ Association (KWA), a local association formed in 1993 and supported by the Cambodia Council of Ministers.

Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers said the conference will promote and preserve the literary heritage of Cambodia.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the conference will also provide an opportunity for the neighboring countries’ authors to learn about literature, writing, culture, customs, civilizations and progress in each country.

“I appreciate the Conference because this is an opportunity for writers to debate topics on culture and literature preservation,” he said. “I hope through this conference, they can also gain a deeper insight into the importance and values of the culture and civilizations of each country,” he added.

The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that authors are important figures in society as they describe reality, promote ideas and foster a love of good acts, justice and morality.

“Building a literate and cultured society is as important goal. It requires a school system that encourages reading form the earliest age,” he said. “I appeal all, especially children to increase their reading and writing habits so as to increase their own knowledge and writing skills,” he added.

The Deputy Prime Minister added that without education, wrong ideas flourished, often leading to social dislocation. He called on authors from the three countries to continue their hard work and cooperation to improve writing skills in future.

Sim Vanna, Secretary of State at the Council of Ministers and also President of the Khmer Writers’ Association, said that this was the first writer’s conference to be held in Cambodia. He pointed out that last year the conference was organized by the Vietnamese Writers Association in the Social Republic of Vietnam.

The Secretary of State also said the main purpose of the conference was to strengthen and improve cooperation and friendship between three countries - Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao, via writing activities, readings and publications.

The President hinted that his Association plans to conduct an ASEAN Literary Author’s Conference to promote writing and literature in ASEAN countries. He added that the objective of the conference is learning and sharing writing experiences.
The next Literary Author’s Conference for the three countries will take place in Vientiane, Lao, in 2010, according to Vanna.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cambodia Plans to lift Ancient Shipwreck from Seafloor


The Royal Government of Cambodia plans to lift an ancient shipwreck, along with other artifacts which sank of the coast of Koh Kong Province. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA) has further plans to build a huge museum to house the ship later on this year.

Khim Sarith, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said that according to recent research conducted by his Ministry and the Shipwreck Research and Salvage Committee, a centuries-old vessel was discovered off the Southwestern coast of Koh Kong Province.

The Secretary of State said the ship is believed to be a wooden sailing ship laden with pottery and other artifacts that sunk during the 15th or 16th century. He continued that the ship which is 30 meters long and 8 meters wide, has not been identified but hundreds of fragments of ceramics, jars and pottery have been recovered from it.

He said that the ship sank in over 30 meters of water. He pointed out that there had been previous attempts by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to bring the ship and other artifacts up but they lacked the money and expertise to retrieve the wreck.

“I am the Project Manager of the Ministry’s Shipwreck Research and Salvage Committee for Koh Kong province,” he said. “I wanted to seek help, both financial and technical from foreign partners to bring up the ancient ship and any other artifacts from the seabed,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during an interview on February 12.

He emphasized that due to the condition of the wreck, the operation would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Referring to the shipwreck renovation, the Secretary of State pointed out that MoCFA plans to build a museum for it in Koh Kong province that will also serve as a place for national and international researchers to conduct their activities.

He said the ministry hoped that the ship museum will become a cultural center for Koh Kong and that it will contribute to progress and development in Cambodia.

“I appeal to all friendly nations to help Cambodia in lifting up the ancient shipwreck. Those who are ready and able to help us, please come directly to meet us at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts for talks on details about planning costs,” he said. “After the talks and agreements, I will make a proposal to the Head of the Royal Government of Cambodia for the final decision on operations.” he added.

The Secretary of State also said that according to report, a number of foreign ships have been found in Southeast Asian waters in recent decades, with many yielding a wealth of artifacts.

“We would be very grateful for any foreign financial and technical support. We think that if we could get this support in time, the shipwreck operation will be complete within the year,” he said.

Ho Vandy, Co-Chairman of the Tourist Working Group and Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said he welcomed MoCFA’s plan.

“I support the Ministry’s plan to raise the ancient ship and to build the museum in Koh Kong province. I think that if the old ship is retrieved and featured as part of a huge museum, it will become a striking and attractive venue for tourists,” he said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly on February 12.

He continued, “I hope that the ship museum will bring more national and foreign visitors to Koh Kong province. It will also generate more jobs for the people there and help reduce poverty in the region.”

Nuon Pichsoudeny, Cambodia’s Youngest Writer


Noun Pichsoudeny, 18, is one of the University of Cambodia’s Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship students and has spent time to provide an interview to the Cambodia Weekly on February 11.

The youngest novel writer in Cambodia was born in 1989 in Pailin and has one sister and one brother. She is now studying Economics at the University of Cambodia (UC).

Pichsoudeny is well-known as the youngest student writer in the Kingdom of Cambodia after her four novels were published and bought by many readers. The books continue to be sold at book shops throughout the country.

“I have read Khmer novels, short stories and magazines since I was 7 years old. I have probably read over three 300 books so far,” she said.

Pichsoudeny continued that from 2006 until 2008, she had written a total of six novels four of which have been published and a further two novels awaiting publication.

“I was able to write novels and other short stories since grade six at Primary School in Pailin because I learned by basic skills from veteran Khmer writers,” she said, her smiles indicative of happy reading memories.

The young writer said the four novels published include Star Rises at Noon, My Island My Love, The Heart Competition, and The Love Shade near Rancor Fire. They are all sentimental love stories with a didactic theme for a readership of older youths and adults.

The books were published by Banteay Srei Publishers, a private publishing company in Phnom Penh and are available from the usual outlets, according to Pichsoudeny.

“I became a qualified writer in 2006 upon publication of my first title The Star Rises at Noon. I intend to write more novels for publication to encourage more readers and promote literary awareness in Cambodia,” she added.

Her two unpublished books include Nisai Phka Tep (The Angel Flower’s Fate) and Lbaeng Chet Lbech Apia Pipia (The Heart Gambling, the Wedding Trick). She said the two stories would be available soon.

She is also able to write poems for the Hun Sen Krong Tep Nimeth High School in Pailin. She is now a Member of the Khmer Writers’ Association and she has been working with Amara Publishing.

Referring to her studies, Pichsoudeny said she studied at the Hun Sen Krong Tep Nimeth High School in Pailin, earning a Baccalaureate in 2008.

Pichsoudeny said that she applied to study economics at the University of Cambodia following the introduction of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship in 2008.

“I am now a novel writer but my dream is to be a banker and economist,” she said. “I am happy because I passed the scholarship exams. I will study hard to reach my Bachelor degree goal. I will then continue to study for Master’s and Doctoral degrees with the University of Cambodia,” she added.

Regarding her writings and publications, she will continue to write on different topics to promote literary education in Cambodia.

“My dreams have come true so far. Once I have achieved success in my career, I will then return to writing until I can no longer lift a pen,” she said. “If I have played a small part in increasing appreciation for Cambodia’s literary culture, then I will be content.”

Cheng Kuysieng, Senior Editor of Amara Publishers, founded in early January 2009, noted that Pichsoudeny is the youngest writer in the company.

“I started working with Pichsoudeny in 2008 and quickly noted her clever style and capacity for hard work,” she said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly.

The Senior Editor said that despite her tender age, Pichsoudeny is capable of writing many additional novels and is a valuable human resource addition to the Khmer Writers’ Association and Amara Publishers.

Prum Thida Vattey, 19, a first year student of the National University of Management and personal friend to Pichsoudeny said that she appreciated Pichsoudeny’s literary skills.

“I have known Noun Pichsoudeny for two years when she was studying with me at Hun Sen Krong Tep Nimeth High School in Pailin. She is a brave young girl and very gentle and friendly,” she told the Cambodia Weekly.

Thida Vattey continued, “Pichsoudeny was the outstanding student in my class. I am very proud to know her. I hope that she will become a successful writer or economist for Cambodia. I wish her all success in future.”

KRT Fixes Date for Duch’s Trial


The long-awaited trial of Kaing Guek Eav alias “Duch”, the chief of the infamous Tuol Sleng S-21 Prison, where thousands of Cambodians were tortured and killed, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), said Reach Sambath, Press Officer of ECCC.

Sambath said “Duch” is the first of five Khmer Rouge leaders to be tried for their roles in the regime that killed as many as two million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

He said the Initial Hearing for Duch's trial will start at 9am on February 17th at the ECCC and will also be broadcast live over TVK and Cambodian Television Network (CTN). It will also be aired by National Radio AM 96.

“At the Initial Hearing on Tuesday, the judges will decide on the nature of participation of “civil parties”, or “victims” who have asked to be included in the proceedings. Neither the accused persons, nor any witnesses, experts, or Civil Parties will speak at the Initial Hearing on any matters of substance,” he told the Cambodia Weekly on February 13.

So far, the ECCC’s Victims Unit has received 94 applications from individuals seeking civil party status as part of Case File 1 as well as 280 complaints concerning Duch, in connection to the S-21Security Office, the S-24 Security Office (Prey Sar), and the Choeung Ek execution site.

“Following the Initial Hearing, the President, in consultation with the Trial Chamber, will fix the date of the Substantive Hearing. The Substantive Hearing will consider the evidence contained in the Case File. The accused person, witnesses, experts and the Civil Parties may testify or make statements orally during this part of the trial,” he added.

Sambath said 28 of 94 requests have already recognized during the investigative phase and they have now been transferred to the Trial Chamber. He added that about 500 participants including former Khmer Rouge Victims, national and international NGO representatives, national and international journalists and foreign embassy representatives will participate in Duch’s trial.

Chhang Youk, President of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DCC), a local NGO formed in 1997, said he was happy with the news of Duch’s trial. He said his Centre has spent 12 years collecting records of Khmer Rouge atrocities. Many documents from the centre have been submitted as evidence to the tribunal.

“I support Duch’s trial because I have waited for it for 12 years now. I think that the ECCC now has enough documents and witnesses to try Duch,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during a telephone interview on February 23.

He continued, “I hope the hearing will allow us to understand what really happened there. I also hope that the trial will be conducted in a free, fair and acceptable manner for all participants and we are going to find justice for the victims who were killed during the Khmer Rouge period.”

Chum Mey, a former S-21 prisoner, said that he and his family are comfortable in attending Duch’s trial on Tuesday. Mey said that he had been waiting for Duch’s trial for the last 30 years.

“I have been waiting for the best part of my life, and when I attend the trial, I want to hear clearly from Duch why my children and I were jailed at the S-21 Security Office. What crimes had we committed? And why did they torture and kill so many people during the Khmer Rouge regime?” he said.

Vann Nath, another survivor of the horrors of the S-21 Security Office, said that he was also willing to attend Duch’s trial.

Nath said, “It has taken a long time and I am tired of waiting. However, I am now very happy because Duch’s trial is scheduled to begin this week.”

“I expect the Khmer Rouge Trials will give me and all the other victims justice,” he added.

According to CDC documents, more than 17,000 people were tortured and killed at the S-21 torture centre in Phnom Penh under Duch’s authority.

Tooth Decay Affects 90 % of Cambodian Children


The Ministry of Health’s Secretary of State Dr. Te Kuyseang has estimated that 90 percent of Cambodian children suffer from tooth decay and other diseases of the teeth and gums. He said the scope of the dental hygiene problem was much worse compared to other countries in Southeast Asia.

The Secretary of State said that according to research conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine in the Ministry of Health in 2008, 90 percent of Cambodia’s children suffer tooth decay.

“I have observed that many Cambodian children have tooth decay because they have not got into the regular habit of brushing their teeth,” he said. “They have not been taught the importance of oral health, nor how to prevent the onset of dental problems,” he added.

According to the ministry’s research data, children in the six-seven age range have nine rotten teeth each and 16 to 17 year-olds have on average six rotten teeth each. The majority of Cambodian adults were found to have tooth disease, according to the report.

“I appeal to all parents to take the care of their children’s teeth and mouths seriously from now on so that their teeth can last a lifetime,” he said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly on February 10.

The Secretary of State said that to promote dental hygiene, the Ministry of Health has worked hard to advance a health education program, alongside state schools and communities in districts, cities and provinces in Cambodia.

He added that his ministry has also included dental checkups in each district, provincial referral hospital and health center in provinces and cities across the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Ministry has also implemented the Dentistry Quality Promotion Program whereby the management of medical equipment, human resources and technical training will be adjusted to ensure the effective delivery of healthcare throughout the country.

Hem Chhin, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Health said, “Cambodia has the worst dental health record the Southeast Asian region. I am concerned that this problem will have a detrimental effect on our peoples’ health and human resources in future if we cannot improve our record,” he said.

To encourage better care of the teeth and mouth, the Ministry of Health will provide all the nation’s schools with free dental checkups and increase awareness of the importance of proper brushing.

“I hope that with support from the Ministry of Health and other related ministries and companies, we can reduce the prevalence of mouth diseases in Cambodia,” he said. “I hope that through these activities we can protect our peoples’ teeth and gums,” he added.

Heng Chan Sophal, Chief of Sales and Marketing and Supervisor for Colgate Palmolive Cambodia, said his company, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Cambodian Dental Association has recently provided free dental checkups.
He said the checkups started on February 1 and will be completed by February 28, 2009. He pointed out that the checkups will take place at over 50 dental clinics in 24 cities and provinces in Cambodia. According to the company’s plan, over one million Cambodians will benefit from these checkups and the dental care advice they will also receive.

The Valentine’s Day Affects Cambodian Tradition


The Culture and Fine Arts Ministry’s Secretary of State Som Sokun has appealed to Cambodian youth to respect their own customs and traditions and not adopt the Valentine’s Day Traditions. He said the Festival is diluting Cambodian culture and traditions.

“Valentine’s Day is not a Cambodian festival, it is a Roman Festival in which women proclaim their love and men buy overpriced gifts and single people getting depressed,” he said during an interview with The Cambodia Weekly February 11.

The Secretary of State said that there are so many young people making love and sacrificing their purity during Valentine’s Day in Cambodia. He said these activities will have a negative effect in Cambodia.

“I think that the Valentine’s festival is good for people in developed countries but it is not so good for our people who must preserve their culture and traditions,” he said. “We should not allow sex before marriage,” he added.

He pointed out that recent years, many Cambodians saw the festival as an excuse to lose their virginity. He added that this attitude was very risky in terms of health and contrary to local customs.

“I appeal to the youth of Cambodia to pay their pure love and respect to their parents and teachers, and study hard to become good citizens and future leaders,” he added.

Mao Sopouthyroth, Program Coordinator of the Youth Council of Cambodia, a local Non-Government Organization in Phnom Penh, said that many Cambodian youngsters misinterpreted the meaning of Valentine’s Day.

“Many Cambodians, both male and female believe that Valentine’s Day is an excuse to find a guest or other safe house and indulge in private pleasures,” she told the Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 13.

The Program Coordinator said that according to report, over 70 percent of the population of Cambodia is below the age of 21. She added that according to her own research, Valentine’s Day is the day of choice for staging an introduction to private adult matters.

“I am afraid that if they continue to commit such acts on Valentine’s Day, they run the risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS. I also appeal to them to turn this festival into a day of respect for parents, teachers and friends,” she said.

Kasem Kolnary, Executive Director of Cambodian HIV/AIDS Education and Care said that to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in young people, her organization has produced a “sex education spot”.

She said that the presentations would educate young people about sexual relations and HIV/AIDS Education. They will be screened on the Cambodian Television Network (CTN) and aired on Radio FM 102 from the 11th -18th February 2009.

“Many young people decide to have their first experiences during the Valentine festival. Most of them do not use condoms so my message is to advise them not to have sex before the marriage,” she said.

Beng Dareth, Deputy Chief of the Intervention Police Unit in the Ministry of Interior, said that at least 50 young people came to Chroy Changvar and Preah Monivong bridges to commit suicide before and after the Valentine’s Festival Day.

He continued that most victims were young females who said that their husbands or boyfriends had been unfaithful to them and that life was no longer worth living.

“Suicidal women always say they have problems in their private affairs,” he said. “They jump from the bridge into the river; they are lucky because they don’t hurt themselves too badly and we are there to pick them up and send them home.”

He pointed out that prior to Valentine’s Day, a total of 20 young people attempt suicide at Chroy Changvar and Preah Monivong bridges. During Valentine’s Day, his police launches are on call 24 hours a day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Keo Monorom is the first Cambodian female football referee


Keo Sarin, Deputy Director General of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC), revealed that Cambodia has a total of 50 football referees. He said one of the best is female referee Keo Monorom, 26, who completed a training course in “Physical Education and Sports” in Cuba last year.

The Deputy Director General said that Keo is the only qualified female referee in Cambodia and one of very few in the entire world. On top of this, she is also the youngest football referee in Cambodia. Ms Monorom took six years of training in Cuba; hence she is a highly qualified referee and an honor to the Cambodian people.

“I am proud of her as she is a very active and capable referee and stands as a shining light and example to other women of Cambodia,” he said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly on February 6. “I believe that she will share her skills and working experience with all the young football players of Cambodia – male and female,” he added.

Monorodom was born in 1983 and has four sisters and a brother in her family. She became a sports teacher in 2000 when she passed the MoEYS’s exam and undertook training in Phnom Penh. She is now working as referee with FFC in Phnom Penh.

“I have played football since I was seven years old. It’s always been my dream to be a top-flight player or referee in Cambodia,” she told the Cambodia Weekly.

Monorom said that she began working with the Football Federation of Cambodia on January 7, 2009, following her return from Cuba in 2008.

“I am now happy because my dream has become true and I am able to work for the FFC,” she said. “I am going to work hard and do my best in coaching other football players in Cambodia. I am also happy to share my knowledge and football playing skills with other young people, especially young women in Cambodia,” she added.

Monorom said that besides referee work, she was also assigned by the Football Federation of Cambodia to work as an English and Spanish Interpreter for the Cuban boxing coach at the National Olympic Stadium, in Phnom Penh.

Referring to her graduation, she said that she received a Sports Training Scholarship from MoEYS to study in Cuba in 2000. She said that during the 6 year-sports training course, she studied many sports subjects apart from football and refereeing skills.

She got a Bachelor Degree in Physical Education and Sports from Cuba in 2008.

“I am so lucky to have received a scholarship to attend the sports courses in Cuba and I now have a sports degree for life. I am ready to work with the younger generation and share my skills and experience with them,” she said, a beautiful smile playing across her lips.

Kim Saroeurn, 28, a sports coach at Boeng Trabaek High School, in Phnom Penh, said that she understood the extent of Monorom’s talents and experience.

“I have known Monorom since 2000 when I started training with her in Phnom Penh. She is very friendly, hard working person,” he said. “She was also the outstanding student in my class, and I am sure she will go on to make an equally outstanding referee,” Saroeun added.

Reyum Produces Books on Literary Culture for Students


The Reyum Institute plans to print more books for Cambodian readers, according to its Founding Director, Ly Daravuth. He said that his non-governmental organization aims to serve as platform for research and documentation and provide an arena for the exchange of ideas and creative expression.

Currently, there are eight titles scheduled for a print-run of over 2,000 copies each, on topics covering Khmer Food, Khmer culture, Cambodian history, and Geography. They will be published early in 2009, according to Reyum’s plan. Next year, the organization’s catalogue will expand with a broader range of titles to stock the shelves of libraries and book sellers both here and abroad.

“I note that books produced today are generally poorly printed and often poorly written,” he said. “Worse than this, books are not readily available to all sections of the community, especially in rural areas and some children grow up never having owned a single picture book,” he told The Cambodia Weekly during a personal interview on February 4.

The Director said Reyum is to focuses on two areas of book printing. Firstly, Reyum will publish scholarly books, in conjunction with various research and exhibition projects. Secondly, Reyum will produce high quality Khmer language books for children.

“Reyum is committed to the printing and distribution of Khmer Language books to as wide a local population as possible,” he said, “and we hope that we will make a worthwhile contribution to the development of literary culture in Cambodia.”

Van Sovanny, General Manager of the Reyum Institute, said that since the establishment of the Organization in 1998, over 200,000 books had been printed, covering about 70 titles. The books are sold at the Reyum Institute and at outlets in Cambodia and abroad, with prices ranging from as little as US $2.50 up to US $ 25 per title, according to Sovanny.

The General Manager emphasized that all profits from the book sales will be reinvested in Reyum’s publishing operations to pay for the addition of extra titles. She added that Reyum is committed to the free distribution of a considerable portion of each print run to libraries and schools through the Kingdom of Cambodia.

She revealed that Reyum has been conducting three additional programs covering exhibitions and events that foster creativity and critical thinking, and provide contemporary artists with the opportunity to explore and create new work; the organization has a research wing for the benefit of scholars and academics; and an Art School which provides free art classes for all students.

Reyum’s ongoing activities are supported by the Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Prince Claus Fund, Ingrid’s Bequest Fund for Reyum, LINC, the Toyota Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, the Japan Foundation, the Kasunisou Foundation and the Friends of Khmer Culture.

Khloat Vibola, Director of National Library and also Deputy Director of the Book and Reading Department in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, praised Reyum’s publishing operation.

“I am so pleased with Reyum’s work. All books published by Reyum are very interesting and useful to our readers,” she said. “I think that these books will make a valuable contribution towards the development of literary culture in Cambodia,” she added.

She concluded, “I appeal to Reyum to continue researching, writing texts on different subjects and publishing more books for our people and our children’s future.”

FAO Provides US$ 2.25 M in Aid to Build Irrigation System


The Royal Government of Cambodia gratefully accepts financial assistance from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) which has promised to offer a total of US $ 2.2 millions in aid to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MoAFF).
Chan Tong Yves, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, said that the FAO’s financial aid will help MoAFF to promote food security and increase agricultural activities in Cambodia.
To achieve these goals, he said his Ministry has been working very hard with its development partners and other involved ministries to construct irrigation systems and renovate dams throughout the country.
“I fully appreciate the FAO’s continued support and they have provided food supplies and financial assistance to Cambodia since 1993. With this additional grant, we will make further strides towards total food security by increasing agricultural output,” he said.

The Secretary of State continued that his Ministry is going to appeal to the FAO to continue providing more financial support and technical assistance to the government.

Since 2000 until 2008, under the direction of the MoAFF, rice production has increased every year. He also said that official data illustrates an increase in rice exports per year. In 2006, Cambodia exported a total of 2 million tones of rice; in 2007, 2.2 million tones were exported and in 2008, the figure stood at over 3 million tones.
“We promise that this financial aid will be used for the proper purpose. It will be controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture as it continues to build and renovate more irrigation systems and dams to increase rice yields,” he added.

Ajay Markanday is the FAO’s representative in Cambodia. He confirmed that his Organization - a UN Agency based in Cambodia - plans to provide a total of US $ 2.25 million in support to the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries in 2009.
In 2007, FAO donated a total of US$3.6 million to the MoAFF for development of natural resource zones around Tonle Sap Lake and related projects. This followed the US$ 3 million donated the previous year.
The Organization has also provided policy-makers and analysts with the most up to date information available on all aspects of food supply so that timely interventions can be planned and food security ensured, according to Markanday.

NEC Announces Political Parties for Registration


The National Election Committee (NEC) has commanded all political parties to register for City, Municipality, District and Khans Elections, starting on February 26. Deadlines for registration will be March 2, 2009. This announcement was made by Tep Nytha, NEC Secretary General, who emphasized the importance of making sure that all registration details had been covered by the start of March. He was speaking to reporters during a press conference in his office on February 3.

The Secretary General said that all political parties officially registered with the Ministry of Interior who seek participation in the Council Elections 2009 can prepare their candidates’ names for registration from February 26.

“These will be the first council elections ever held in Cambodia,” he said. “The main purpose of the Council Elections is to select new political representatives and council members to work in municipalities, provinces, districts or Khans throughout the kingdom,” he added.

According to Nytha, this election is non-universal and that the 11,353 members of the 1,621 Communes and Sangkat offices are the voters. The election will take place on Sunday, May 17, 2009 in cities and provinces across the country.

The Secretary General said the Council Election will be conducted in a free, fair and credible manner, with monitoring by election observers from national and international monitoring organizations. The NEC has requested US $1.5 million out of the national budget in preparation for the election.

According to an NEC report, there are 11,353 members representing the 1, 621 Communes and Sangkat offices. Of these, 7, 993 voters are from the Cambodian Peoples’ Party; 2,660 voters tie their colors to the Sam Rainsy Party; and 425 voters support the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

Hang Puthea, Executive Director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), said that to prepare for the Council Election 2009, his organization plans to employ a total of 185 observers across the country.

“In order to ensure free and fair Council Elections, NICFEC will send observers to each polling station located in cities and provinces throughout the country,” he said.

During the general election in 2007 and 2008, NICFEC used 7,000 national observers and 100 international observers, according to Puthea.

“So far, the NEC has been involved in many electoral success stories - organizing the elections for the National Assembly, the Senate and the Commune Councils in Cambodia,” he said. “I hope that through its work, preparation and organizational experience, the NEC will turn the Council Elections 2009 into a further success,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

Up to now, the NEC has organized a total of six important elections in Cambodia; there have been three elections to the National Assembly, two elections to the Commune Council and one Senate election.

UK Education Fair Opens for Students in Phnom Penh


The Spring Board Cambodia Education Fair opened on February 5 in Phnom Penh with the support of the British Council Bangkok and the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. It was jointly organized by SpringBoard4Cambodia and the National Institute of Education in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS).

The Fair took place at the National Institute of Education, under the presidency of the Cambodian Education Minister Im Sethy, who said that education fair underlines the attention and strong support of the British government in promoting good cooperation, education and human resource development between Cambodia and the UK.

The fair also provides opportunities for state and private universities to cooperate and work with British Education Partners in promoting and expanding the cause of sciences technology, management and university development.

The Minister said that in addition, the fair offered the opportunity for Cambodian students and members of the public to explore the education system in the UK and receive direct information from British universities relevant to their studies abroad.

“I hope that the UK Education Fair will help to strengthen the relationship between Cambodian state and British universities and provide an opportunity for Cambodian students to study at the UK, which has the best quality education system in the world,” the Minister said during opening remark.

The Minister continued the Government has determined that education is a priority sector in producing human resources and serving the needs of social and economic development in Cambodia.

For instance, the government issued the Rectangular Strategy and set up the Strategic Development Plan 2006-2010, focusing on human resource development and ensuring that every child has same opportunity to receive quality higher education in Cambodia.

“I encourage both Cambodian state universities and British universities to expand cooperation between professors and students, arrange study tours and create joint curricular and research topics to promote quality education in future,” he said.

The Minister noted that to promote education in Cambodia, his government has created three important education reforms including the Enrollment Equity Guarantee which builds schools close to people’s houses and provides scholarships for students from poorer backgrounds; the Education Quality and Effectiveness reform will construct more libraries and schoolrooms and work towards curriculum development; and the Staff Capacity Building and Institutions Development reform will provide technical skills training for all teachers, as well as restructuring the organization chart.

Collin Glass, Head of SpringBoard4Cambodia, said this was the first occasion that his company has organized such a Fair in Cambodia. He said the fair will inform prospective students about the opportunities offered by the British education system. He added that the fair will also highlight the importance of education in a knowledge-based world, which demands a highly-skilled workforce.

“The Cambodian education system will be the driving force in developing the human capital of your wonderful country and we at the Spring Board hope to support this maximizing of your human capital,” he said.

He pointed out that the Spring Board is a multi-national company with offices throughout the ASEAN region. The company is proud to have a Cambodian registered company, housed in a new building that includes a computer laboratory. The organization can be found at the Purple Building in Phnom Penh.

“It is through this powerful agenda for change that Cambodia will produce skilled young citizens who can contribute to the economic prosperity of the Cambodian nation and to build their own vision of the world,” he said.

Ly Bunheang, 23, a law student graduating from the Royal University of Law and Economic Sciences in Phnom Penh, attended the UK Education Fair. He said that he was happy to be there.

“I am happy to visit the education exhibition organized by SpringBoard4Cambodia,” he said. “I note that all British university education systems and training courses appear to be the most up-to-date in the world,” he added.

He continued, “I would like to study in the UK very much. I will apply for study after graduation in Phnom Penh next year. I hope that I will get a good job if I graduate abroad.”

According to report, 23 British universities attended the UK Education Fair in Phnom Penh. These included Birkbek College, University of London, Cardiff University, Cambridge Education Group, The University of Central Lancashire, The Universities of East Anglia, Education First, the University of Greenwich, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, INTO, the University of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University, The University of Nottingham, the University of Plymouth, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Pembrokeshire College, Regent College, Roehmpton University, the University of Sunderland, the University of Wolverhampton, and University of Worcester.