Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cambodia Celebrates Khmer Visual Arts

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia has celebrated the achievements and developments of “Khmer Visual Arts: 30 years of Survival and Development.” More than 700 government officials from the National Assembly of Cambodia, the Senate, artists, writers, film actors, film producers, students, researchers, and music composers attended the national seminar.

The event of the Khmer Visual Arts was conducted over two days from the 21st to the 22nd July 2009 at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh, organized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA). Prime Minister Hun Sen made closing remarks on the end of the second day. He said that 30 years after liberation from the Pol Pot regime, Khmer Visual Arts continue to thrive and Cambodia has become the natural center for the preservation of old and the production of new Khmer art.

“Khmer Visual Arts represent the culture, colors and identity of Cambodian people and the artist is therefore the soul of the people. To preserve and develop the arts for future generations, they must be organized, recorded or published and inserted into study curriculums of pupils and students at primary schools and high schools across the country,” he said.

The Premier said the development of the Khmer visual arts should occur within the scope of culture and traditions and reflect the colors, identities, ideas and visions of Cambodians. He added that future visions of development should depend on ancient culture and national traditions. He also said there should be a reduction in the quantity of foreign culture on radios and television. All of these ideals are in accordance with national cultural policies that focus on culture protection, conservation and promotion, said Hun Sen.

The Premier called on the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Ministry of Information to work closely with each other in producing and collating the achievements of the nation’s artists. He also called on the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and Ministry of Tourism to promote the works for the sake of bringing in extra tourist earnings.

Men Sam An, Permanent Deputy Prime Minister, said that during the Khmer Rouge time, the majority of the nation’s intellectuals including teachers, experts and artists were executed or died of starvation. However, after Victory Day, 7 January 1979, the resistance movement gathered the remaining people who had some artistic background to give them training in visual, musical and performing arts. She said this strategy allowed the government to preserve traditional culture during the Pol Pot regime.

Sam An pointed out that for the past 30 years, the development of the cultural sector has been successful. She said that Khmer arts have played a significant role in promoting tourism in Cambodia.

Him Chhem, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, agreed. He added that his ministry also plans to organize a “Nationwide Khmer Visual Arts Theatre” in order to celebrate “National Cultural Day” on March 3, 2010 in Phnom Penh. ////

Chhuon Sathia Receives Scholarship for Study in Cuba

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Chhuon Sathia, 19, has received a scholarship for study in Cuba following a successful year of study under The University of Cambodia’s Samdech Hun Sen–Handa National Scholarship program. Sathia is the older of two brothers in his family, who live in Thmey Village, Rokar Krao commune, Daunkeo district, Takeo province. He was born there in 1990. He is now studying Information Technology (IT) at The University of Cambodia (UC) in Phnom Penh.

Sathia studied at Chea Sim-Takeo High School in Takeo province, earning his Baccalaureate in 2008. He applied to study Information Technology at UC following the introduction of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship and Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008. He recently passed another scholarship exam that will open the door to six years of study in Cuba.

“I am overjoyed to have passed the Cuban scholarship exam, just as happy as I was in 2008 when I learned I had passed the UC scholarship exams. The chance to study abroad is a great opportunity. However, I must also bid a fond farewell to The University of Cambodia,” he said. He added that he passed the Cuban scholarship exam offered by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in June 2009, beating hundreds of other candidates for the scholarship.
“I am going to leave The University of Cambodia for study abroad but I will not forget Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Dr. Handa, or our Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen for their selfless generosity. They are the owners of the National Scholarships and they offered me the opportunity to study free of charge over one year with UC. To prove my gratitude to them I will work hard and show Cuba how well a protégé of The University of Cambodia can do,” he said.

Sathia stated that he decided to apply to study Stomatology in Cuba because he was confident he could contribute something to the state of Cambodia’s oral health in future, armed with the Cuban qualifications.

To achieve his goal, Sathia said he planed to continue as a postgraduate student, eventually becoming a fully qualified doctor.

“My dream is to be a medical doctor or stomatology expert and apply for work with foreign or international companies or organizations in Cambodia and beyond,” he said. “After several years of work experience, I will establish my own clinic or health business to provide healthcare for people in Cambodia.”

Sathia emphasized that according to the study schedule, he will leave for Cuba at the end of September 2009. He will then stay for at least six years of study in Cuba. He also said he was committed to doing the best he can to make himself worthy of the scholarship and to increase his chances of being accepted for further study.

Turning to his studies with The University of Cambodia, Sathia said that he has just finished the Fastrax English courses with the University’s Center for English Studies (CES). He said that as a result, his English language skills have improved a great deal, certainly to the point where he feels confidence in any given academic situation.

“I suspect that I passed the Cuban scholarship exams in 2009 because of my English studies with The University of Cambodia. They proved to be very helpful in answering the English language section of the paper leastways,” he said.

Sathia’s father, Chhuon La, is an Advocacy Coordinator for Oxfam Australia, an international organization based in Cambodia. He too was delighted to hear of his son’s success.

He said Sathia is a committed person and a hard worker, the evidence of two successful scholarship exams proving the point.
“I was very happy when my son has received the scholarship to study in Cuba as his future has been a consideration with me for several years now. I know that he will do the best he can and I will continue to support him as far as I am able,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly on July 21.
“I was happy to hear that my son had passed the Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarship exams in 2008,” he said. “I am equally happy, though just a little more apprehensive now. Cuba is a long way away”
Chhuon La said that since high school, Sathia told him that he wanted to be a good person and help society. He hopes that Sathia will realize his dreams and became a future leader of Cambodia. ///

Cambodia Takes Measures to Control Communications Technology

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Cambodian government is now taking strict measures to control all technology systems including landline telephones, mobile phones online companies and internet shops to prevent terrorism and other illegal activities in the country.

The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has invited all relevant companies for a meeting on July 24 at the National Police Commissioner’s Headquarters in Phnom Penh to address the issues, according to Sok Phal, Deputy General Commissioner of the National Police.

The Deputy General Commissioner said while technology is developing rapidly and the use of mobile phones and the internet is increasing, it is easier for terrorists to use these media to commit crime. He added that to prevent these abuses, the government will take action to control all posts, telecommunications and internet providers.

The government has also issued a circular dated July 8, 2009 asking all company operators to cooperate in registering their customer’s details (telephone users’ IDs and addresses) with the competent authorities. He said the task was complicated by the fact that many mobile phone users use several numbers and different telephone systems. Furthermore, many had failed to submit the proper documents (ID cards, family books) to the mobile phone companies.

Criminal activities and terrorist acts in Cambodia have been facilitated by mobile phones, according to Sok Phal. He recalled that in July 2001, terrorists used mobile phones to organize the bombings of the Hong Kong Hotel and Man E Hotel in Phnom Pen. On April 11, 2005, terrorist emailed from Cambodia, threatening to bomb an Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. On July 28, 2007, terrorists coordinated their attacks on the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Stupa located near Botum Vatey Pagoda using mobile phones; and on January 2, 2009, terrorists used mobile phones when planting bombs at the Ministry of National Defense and The Television 3 Station in Phnom Penh.

According to research released by the Ministry of Interior, the average Cambodian reprobate has at least fifty mobile phone numbers, none of them properly registered. The report also listed eight cases in which foreign nationals received calls from Cambodia claiming to be from kidnappers. He added his authority is investigating these cases.

Mam Sothea, Administration Director of Cam GSM (MobiTel), a leading mobile phone company in Cambodia, said that his company was happy to work and cooperate with authorities to combat the crime and terrorists who use this company’s mobile phone numbers.
He said his company already cooperates to the fullest in reporting ‘phone registration details.

Doung Sotara, Pubic Relations Officer for the TMC Company, said that he understood and was in complete agreement with the government’s need to combat crimes in Cambodia and that his company would support the government without question.

“To promote national security, public order and safety for the people in Cambodia, my company will respect the government’s orders and cooperate with all concerned authorities. I am happy to pass on any information relating to crimes, terrorism, human trafficking and other illegal activities that might pass through my company’s systems,” he said.

According to a report by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, there are ten mobile phone firms operating in Cambodia. The main mobile phone companies include Cam GSM (MobiTel), Telekom Malaysia International Cambodia (Hello), Cam Shin (Mfone), Viettel (Metfone) Company, Camnet Company, and Star Cell Company. There are over ten million phone users in Cambodia.

Journalists Receive Training on Cambodia’s Rural Development

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 40 Cambodian media representatives and journalists from the newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and online news sources have attended a two-day workshop from July 18 – 19 2009 on “The Role of Journalism in Rural Development”. The workshop was held at Kirirom Hillside Resort, in Kampong Speu province.

The Training was conducted by the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) with financial support provided by the Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung fuer die Freiheit (FNS) organization.

The training focused on the roles and responsibilities of journalists in writing articles relating to agriculture and Cambodian domestic products in order to promote rural development, local products and national agricultural products and organic produce on the domestic market. Reporting stories about Cambodia’s irrigation systems and the matter of food security were also considered.

During the training, different topics and experiences related to agriculture and rural development were examined. The workshop also considered topics such as Ecological Agriculture, Saving for Self-reliance (SFR), Local Good Governance, Linking Farmers to the Markets and the Farmer and Nature Net (FNN).

Dr. Yang Saing Koma, CEDAC President, said this first workshop would enhance media participation in rural development work and increase their capacity to report the stories in a factual informative and serviceable manner.

The training also provided a vocabulary list with explanations of current agricultural and technical terminology, resulting in a strengthened understanding and a closer relationship between journalists, farmers and NGOs in Cambodia, said Dr. Saing Koma.

“The media has an important role to play in writing articles to promote social developments, covering both the successes and occasional failures. It must also play a part in describing the rapid advances in technology. The media provides essential support for our society, but the most important thing is that what kind of society do we want and how can the media help us arrive at this ideal,” he said at his opening remakes.

He continued, “We all want to be able to experience a bright future. I think that this workshop will equip journalists with all the necessary concepts relating to the agricultural sector. Used in conjunction with their journalistic skills, reporters will now be able to present a clear picture of agriculture and farming activities.”

He concluded with a call to farmers and reporters to work together for the sake of rural development.

Bin Bunna, a reporter from Radio FM 102, who participated at the training, said that he was pleased with the direction of CEDAC’s workshop.

“I appreciate the training because it has extended my knowledge base and given me a range of concepts to help me better understand the work of rural development, farming activities and agriculture in Cambodia. I will commit myself to working closely with farmers so that I can broadcast more stories about agriculture and rural development in future,” he said.

San Sophal, a reporter from the Sathapana Khmer Language newspaper, said that he was satisfied with the outcome of the CEDAC workshop. He said that he too was a wiser reporter for having attended the sessions.

“This is the first time that I have attended such a workshop. I learned a lots and I am now also able to cover a wide range of angles relating to agriculture, farmers and national agriculture-products in Cambodia,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly. ////



Sorn Elit, the Tallest Cambodian Taekwando Champion

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

There are 18 Taekwondo fighters on the national team, according to Hem Samnang, Secretary General of the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation (CTF). He was speaking to The Southeast Asia Weekly on July 22.

The Secretary General said that Sorn Elit, 22, is currently the best Taekwondo fighter in Cambodia. He has attended many competitions both at home and abroad and has achieved success in both fields. In 2008, he won the national heavyweight title in the Taekwondo championships.

“I am very proud of Sorn Elit as he is the best fighter in Cambodia,” Samnang said. “I believe that he will continue to bring honor to the country, the sport and himself as he competes in still more competitions at home and in the international fighting arena. He is completely committed to his training schedule and is a credit to the sport.”

The Secretary General said that to improve Elit’s skills, the CTF sent him to get Taekwondo training in South Korea over two weeks in 2007. The CTF plans to send him to South Korea again in October to prepare for the SEA Games. These are scheduled for late December 2009 in Vientiane, Laos, he said. Before this however, the CTF will send the fighter to compete in Bangkok, Thailand for the Martial Arts Championship on August 1-9, 2009. Elit said that with his training and commitment, he is likely to be bringing back more medals from these competitions.

Sorn Elit was born in 1987 in Phnom Penh. He is the youngest of three brothers and also has three sisters.

Elit studied at Russey Keo High School in Phnom Penh, completing grade 9 in 2002. Elit is 1.96 meters tall and weighs in at 90 kilograms. This makes him the tallest Taekwondo contender that Cambodia is able to field.

He started Taekwondo training with Mr. Choi Yong Sok, a Korean Taekwondo Coach in 2007, in Phnom Penh to improve his health and simply for the enjoyment of the sport. His younger sister, Sorn Davin, 18, is also training in Taekwondo under the tutelage of her brother. Under his guidance, she has reached a standard where she to can represent Cambodia on the national Taekwondo Team.

“I trained as a boxer when I was a child, competing in 20 universal boxing bouts with ten wins and ten losses. I turned to Taekwondo in 2007. It has always been my dream to be ranked amongst the top ten fighters in the country and Taekwondo has helped me realize this dream.”

Elit pointed out that since 2007 he has competed in three international competitions and won three medals for Cambodia. The first competition took place in South Korea in 2007 and he won a silver medal. The second competition was part of the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and he won a bronze medal. His third international outing saw him in action at the ninth ATF Taekwondo Championships 2009 in Vietnam and he took home another bronze medal. These competitions are in addition to his placing at the National Taekwondo championships in 2008.

“My dream has come true because I am able to train and represent my country in international competitions. I will continue to train and fight hard, both to promote the sport and to bring honor to Cambodia,” Elit said.

In preparation for future international tournaments, Sorn Samnang said that Elit is now training four hours each day. He added that both he and his younger sister are now training with Mr. Choi Yong Sok, along with other members of the national Taekwondo team. Training takes place at the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation located in the National Stadium in Phnom Penh. ///

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cambodia Attends the 13th World Swimming Championship in Italy


BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The six Cambodian delegates will leave for the 13th World Swimming Championship, scheduled over nine days from the July 25 to August 2, 2009 in Rome, Italy. The delegates will depart on July 21. Their number will include two national male swimmers and a couple of female junior swimmers. They will be supported by one coach and one member of the sport’s governing body.

The World Swimming Championship is organized by the International Amateur Swimming Federation (IASF), which was founded in the 1950s, according to Hem Thon, National Coach and Secretary General of the Khmer Amateur Swimming Federation (KASF). He also said that 115 countries besides Cambodia would send swimmers to Italy to take part in the competition.

“This is the third year that Cambodia has sent a swimming team to the World Swimming Championships. We are looking forward to competing with the best swimmers in the world and hopefully winning a couple of medals for our country. It is also be a great experience for our national team and they will learn much during their adventures in Italy,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview on July 16.

The Secretary General said that the competition would also allow Cambodian participation in the selection of new Executive Members for the IASF. The Old Guard will step down following the conclusion of their terms of office in July 2009. As a member of the IASF, Cambodia will help select future members to work for further development and progress in the sport.

Besides attending the 13th World Swimming Championship in Italy, the KASF also plans to send the national team to the SEA Games, scheduled for December this year, said Hem Thon, adding that this year’s games will be held in Laos.

In preparation for these high profile competitions, Hem Thon said all national representatives attend a grueling training schedule from Monday to Friday at the National Stadium Pool in Phnom Penh. He provides the training, alongside a number of national coaches, he said.

“I expect that although our swimmers will be very lucky to f\get a medal, they will at least perform a lot better than the majority of nations taking part in the competition,” he said. “They will also gain further experience at international level, which should set us in good stead for the SEA Games.”

Hem Thon said that Cambodia numbers 47 swimmers in the national team, eight of which are female and 14 of which represent their country at international competition.

Hem Thon Vitini, 16, will attend the competition in Rome. Thon Vitini has participated in six international swimming competitions already in her short sporting career. She has been thrice to France, once to the Middle East, once to Japan and once to China.

“I am happy to represent my country again at international competition. The training is fairly tough, but I am young and can handle it. It would give me great pleasure if I could return to Phnom Penh clutching a medal.////




Launch of the “I am precious” 2009 campaign

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The “I am precious” competition has launched on July 15, 2009 at the International Labor Organization (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia office in Phnom Penh.

The “I am precious” campaign is a joint event in a collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA), the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MoLVT), ILO Better Factories Cambodia (ILO BFC), the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC), the Garment Industry Productivity Center (GIPC), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Workers Unions and Precious Girl Magazine.

Prak Chantha, Secretary of State of the MoLVT, welcomed the establishment of the “I am precious” campaign and said this campaign will highlight Cambodian garment workers’ special skills and talents.

Chantha said the program would also point to possible growth in modeling for the garment industry and boost the morale of garment workers in the industry as a whole.

“I think that this program will help garment workers and the Cambodian government in ensuring sustainable garment industry growth, it will encourage the full participation of stakeholders, will stimulate respect for labor and international laws and reduce the impact of the unemployment crisis in Cambodia,” she said during opening remarks delivered to the launching ceremony on July 15.

The Secretary of State pointed out that the garment industry employs approximately 300,000 people, making it one of the most significant sectors of the Cambodian economy, alongside agriculture. Most of the sector’s employees are young people working to support their families.

Catherine Vaillancourt Laflamme, Training Specialist with the ILO BFC, said that the I am precious movement marked the second such event aimed at improving the lot of garment workers. It seeks to encourage employees to value the value the work they do, to see themselves as talented individuals and to give them the enjoyment of entering a T-shirt design competition.

At the conclusion of activities, the industry should be able to view itself as one offering rewarding careers with opportunities for growth. The value of its contribution to the economic and social development of the nation should also be abundantly clear to all. In short, the individual garment worker is to see him or herself as a precious national asset.

The campaign will also give the industry a positive global image through the involvement of international brands. She continued to say that while the competition will function as the entertaining key feature of the event, the campaign would also highlight elements such as information about career opportunities in the fashion industry. It will boost awareness of the industry and the supply chain, it will feature stories about young workers and management who have “made it” in the industry and examine the evolution of the industry and its future prospects.

Ms. Vaillancourt Laflamme also pointed out that the ILO BFC has been promoting decent working conditions in the export garment industry in Cambodia for almost 10 years now. The successful decade has been marked by cooperation between this organization, the Government, Labor organizations and international fashion labels.

“Through the monitoring of working conditions, and through adapting training and remediation activities, we believe that all of us have achieved something extraordinary,” she said. “The model Cambodia has developed, a model based on social dialogue for long term and sustainable economic and social improvement is now recognized worldwide.”

According to Vaillancourt Laflamme, at least 1,000 Cambodian garment workers from all factories in Cambodia are eligible to submit their dress and T-shirt designs for the competition. She said the competition opened on July 15 and will close on September 14. Results will be announced at a grand finale to be held on November 29 in Phnom Penh. The best designs will be displayed in a fashion show, the winners being selected by Cambodia’s garment industry stakeholders. She added the prizes would include trophies, sewing machines, cash, bicycles or vocational training courses relevant to garment work.

Kaing Monica, Business Development Manager of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia, said that the nation’s labor force was its most valuable asset and this was especially true of the garment industry.

The industry took form in 1994 and in just over 10 years, Cambodia has become one of the top ten suppliers of clothing to the United States of America with total exports valued at over US$3 billion in 2008.

“The garment industry has become one of the four pillars supporting the country’s economy. It is estimated that it accounts for over 80 percent of the country’s total exports, contributing about 17 percent of GDP,” he said.

He added that besides the 350,000 workers employed in the industry, around 1.7 million Cambodians rely on the continued health of the sector. This is a truly great achievement and it is in large part due to the skill and commitment of the Cambodian worker.




UC Scholarship Student Meas Chhen Studies English Literature


BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Meas Chhen, 20, one of The University of Cambodia’s Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008 students, was born in Tbeng Meanchey district, Preah Vihear province. He has four other brothers and two sisters in his family. He is now studying English Literature at The University of Cambodia (UC). He is the fourth brother to take the opportunity to embark on a course of further study.

Chhen studied at Chea Sim-Tbeng Meanchey High School in Preah Vihear Province, earning his Baccalaureate in 2008. He applied to study English Literature at UC following the introduction of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen Vision 100 scholarship and the Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships in 2008.

“I am lucky as I passed The University of Cambodia scholarship exams. It has opened the door to a world of academic work with one of the most prestigious universities in the Kingdom; and thanks to the generosity of the scholarship providers, I get to study here for free,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly on July 14.

Chhen said he decided to study English Literature at The University of Cambodia, as he knew that UC’s education programs are the best in terms of flexibility, up-to-the-minute materials and the flexibility afforded by the modular system. He added that a UC qualification in English Literature would be the best way to get a foothold in the teaching or managerial field.

“I decided to study English Literature because I need to speak English well if I am to become an English Teacher or Program Manager with a private company or non-governmental organizations. I prefer to study with UC because this organization will help me realize my dreams,” he said.

Chhen pointed out that prior to study with the University of Cambodia, he studied English for several years at a private English Center located in Tbeng Mean District, Preah Vihear province. However, he added that since studying with UC, his reading, writing, speaking and listening skills have improved to the point where he feels just as confident communicating with native English speakers as he does conversing with his friends in Khmer.

“I am now happy because I have achieved initial success in my English studies. I hope that after the completion of my studies with UC, I will be able to describe myself as fluent in the language. I will then apply for work and make money to support family,” he said.

He said that to reach his Bachelor’s degree goal, he studies hard every day and reads as many books related to his studies as he can. He also takes advantage of the internet, foreign newspapers and magazines – all excellent sources of additional information in his area of study.

Kun Vireak, 20, a first-year economics student with Norton University in Phnom Penh, and Meas Chhen’s former classmate, said he could understand Chhen’s drive for success.

Vireak said that he has known Meas Chhen since they studies together at Tbeng Mean Chey High School in 2005. He added that apart from Chhen’s steely determination, he was a gentle, friendly and helpful person.

“I hope that he realizes his dream to become an English teacher. Future generations of Cambodian students have much to learn from his mindset,” he said. ////

Cambodia Determines to Defend Its Territorial Integrity

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia will defend Preah Vihear Temple and Cambodian territorial integrity though all measures will be taken to avoid the use of military forces.

Phay Siphan, Secretary of State and Spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that the Government is determined to defend Cambodia, Her independence and sovereignty. He said that his government would work hard and strive to defend and preserve Preah Vihear temple, maintaining it as a World Heritage site under Cambodian stewardship.

“The government is determined to defend our nation and we will not lose one millimeter of it to foreign nations,” he told reporters at a press conference on July 15 at the Council of Ministers. He was speaking on the first anniversary of the Thai incursion at Keo Sekhakiri Svara pagoda located in Preah Vihear province.

Siphan continued to say that Cambodia still looks for a peaceful resolution to the matter based on respect for sovereignty and the rules of civility. He also noted that the inclusion of the temple of the World Heritage list was not the cause but an attempt to legitimize ancient Thai claims to Cambodian land.

Siphan claimed that the presence of Thai troops at Wat Keo Sekhakiri Svara, in Sambok Khmom and other areas was also a product of internal disputes and Thai politics. He also requested that the term “disputed zone between Thailand and Cambodia” be changed to “Cambodian territorial zone claimed by Thailand” in all future official communiqués and media broadcasts.

He also drew attention to the fact that the Thai troops involved in last year’s aggression wore black uniforms similar to those worn by Khmer Rouge flunkies. This, he said added insult to the injury caused to Cambodian sovereignty.

He emphasized that since the Temple’s listing in 2008, Cambodia has fulfilled its management obligations at the site. There is no cause for a “review”, “joint listing”, “joint management”, or “de-listing,” as suggested by the Thai party on various occasions.

The two countries’ leaders have recently agreed to re-deploy their troops away from the temple by the end of July 2009, said Siphan. He added that since the Thai incursion, fighting had occurred on three occasions, the most recent of which destroyed village markets located along the border near Preah Vihear Temple.

According to the Cambodian National Commission to UNESCO, one week after the Committee’s unanimous decision, Thai troops crossed the border with Cambodia and moved toward to the Temple. This incursion is also a violation of the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which required Thailand to remove its armed forces stationed in Cambodian territory near the Temple. In response, Cambodia exercised its obligation to defend Cambodian territory, an action that can only be understood as a response to the Thai militarization of the area.

Thailand justified its invasion based on a map of the border contradicting the map used by the ICJ in its famous 1962 decision. Unlike the ICJ map, the Thai map places the border of the two countries at the immediate edge of the Temple structures.

For more than 40 years, Thailand did not openly dispute the ICJ border. However, it dusted off the unilateral map Justin time to legitimize expansion into Cambodia. The map was made by the Royal Thai Survey Department during the period of Khmer Rouge influence. It was marked “secret,” apparently to hide their international ambitions. ////

Lightning Remains a Problem During the Rainy Season

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Lightning is still a major concern for Cambodians as many are killed by lightning every year during the rainy season, according to Dr. Seth Vannareth, Deputy General Inspector and Director of the Meteorological Department in the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MoWRAM). She was speaking to The Southeast Asia weekly on July 17.

Dr. Vannareth said that according to a recent report, the number of Cambodian people who were killed by lightning has increased this year, compared to the same period the previous year. From January to May 2009, 95 people were killed by lightning in Cambodia while 50 people were killed throughout the whole year 2008.

She suggested that a possible reason for this was the increase in mobile phone use, lightning being attracted to these and other electronic devices. She also suggested that a lack of knowledge about protective measures was also responsible for the increase. Finally, she said that climate change and the hot temperatures of recent weeks had also played a part.

In response, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has been working hard at community level to educate the people about how to avoid the dangers of lightning, said Dr. Vannareth.

According to the Doctor, the ministry has produced thousands of leaflets and brochures to create lightning awareness, and these have been distributed through MoWRAM’s provincial offices and departments since 2006.

Dr. Vannareth continued to say that since 1980, the government has setup lightning protection measures for all government ministries, departments and offices in cities and provinces throughout the country. The same is true for all private or international companies in Cambodia, as demanded by law.

MoWRAM also plans to set up a “lightning warning system” so that it will able to predict and inform the public in advance about the approach of electrical storms, she said, adding that MoWRAM will produce more leaflets and brochures.

To achieve MoWRAM’s goals, she called on private and international companies to sponsor training programs or help produce the leaflets so that they can reach all the nation’s people.

“I hope that if we are able to educate all our people about lightning and set up the lightning warning system, we will see a significant decrease in the number of deaths caused by lightning,” she said. “People can contribute to this right now by turning off their phones, computers and televisions when they see a storm approaching.”

Dr. Vannareth said that due to climate change and the change in direction of the Monsoon winds, there will be more rain, strong winds and clouds, along with thunder and storms in some parts of the country, especially areas located in the lower wet lands of Cambodia. She concluded that the rains will end in October.

According to estimates, about 27 storms in an average year are influenced by the South China Sea. However, with the shifts in the Monsoon winds, fewer storms are expected to hit Cambodia this year. ///

Civil Officers Receive Spokesperson Training

By BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

26 Civil officers from ten different ministries and eight provinces over the nation have participated in spokesperson training over five days, from July 13 to 17, 2009 in Phnom Penh. The training was organized by the Ministry of Information and sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America in Cambodia.

Participating authorities included the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of the Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport. There were also delegates from the Council of Ministers and representatives from eight provinces including Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pailin, Kampong Cham, Rattanakiri, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk and Mondulkiri.

Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, said it marked the second time that the government has organized such courses. They will strengthen the ability of authorized individuals to describe government policy and achievements, their comments intended for broadcast by the various news and current affairs media.

“These meetings mark the first stage of the training process. They aim to train government officers about the role of the spokesperson. Having completed the training, candidates will be able to communicate with the media and members of the public. They will be able to speak about government policy, their ministries, or about subjects relevant to the country’s cities and provinces,” he said during his opening remarks on July 13.

The Minister pointed out that last month, 22 police officers, military police and ranking military officers received spokesperson training. The next step, he said, will involve training candidates to serve as Public Relations Officers with ministries, institutions, cities and provinces.

So far, the Cambodian media has been playing an important role, cooperating and working hard with the Royal Government of Cambodia in promoting and therefore increasing the effectiveness of government policy, democracy and the rule of law, said Kanharith.

United States Ambassador to Cambodia, Carol A. Rodley, said that official spokespeople would serve as vital links between the Government and the Cambodian people and between the government and the rest of the world.

Rodley said that any government’s relationship with the media is sometimes strained and this is as true for the U.S.A. as it is for Cambodia and is a hallmark of communication for all nations that respect free speech.

“The reality is that public officials, private companies and the media need each other and that their relationship is mutually beneficial. The government needs the media to communicate with its people and the media needs the government to “feed the machines”- to provide information which keeps the papers and television stations running. This information exchange allows both bodies-the government and the media-to fulfill their primary duty which is to serve and to inform the people,” she said.

The American Ambassador continued to say that the fact the relationship is at times difficult is actually a positive quality, and represents the natural tension that exists between the media, tasked with translating and explaining government policies to the people, and the government whose tendency is to protect and preserve its status.

“I have no doubt that all of you are up to the task. Nevertheless, I stress the phrase working with the media, because to me that implies engaging with your counterparts in the press. Engaging with them will ensure that the government’s policies and priorities are clearly represented to the people. Being “in front” of the story or quickly providing accurate and concise information in response to a request or a crisis will allow you to dispel rumors, stamp out disinformation and inform your public,” she said.

She continued, “The Cambodian people, independently and through the media will at times both criticize and praise the work of your ministries, and they are entitled to their opinion. It will be your role to respond to them by providing the information they need to form a well balanced and accurate opinion, and not one based on rumors or hearsay.”









Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cambodia Works to Promote Social Safety Nets

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia is working to reduce the impact of the global economic downturn on the nation’s economy through the creation of social safety nets. There will also be measures to increase agricultural productivity, diversify agricultural products, and accelerate land, fisheries and forestry reforms. In addition, new agricultural techniques will be introduced, rural infrastructure will be refurbished, loan markets modernized and expert procedures rationalized.

“I think that agricultural development is a central feature of our efforts to reduce poverty. If we can improve and strengthen our agricultural activities, we will then be able to reduce the impact of the economic downturn,” he said during his closing remarks to a National Forum on “Food Security and Nutrition: Social Safety Nets in Cambodia” on July 7.

The Premier said the government would design macro-economic policies to ensure economic stability. This will be achieved with the introduction of flexible, pro-growth financial policies and reforms. These will recreate confidence in the economy and attract investment from both domestic and foreign sources, especially in fast-yielding economic activities.

The Premier said that social protection is nothing new for Cambodian society. Indeed, traditional social safety nets are at the heart of Khmer culture and take the form of food sharing during festivals or times of emergency. Traditionally, monks play significant roles in these matters and today, they will join the Government in educating and supporting poorer members of the community, said Hun Sen. He added that rich people, businessmen, and officials of the Royal Government were also active in supporting the less fortunate. The Premier said the Cambodian Red Cross, a vital humanitarian agency, also has a role to play. It will help ensure the impartial distribution of goods to all who need them.

He added that the Government would continue to pay attention to the enforcement of Labor Laws, Insurance Laws and Social Security Laws. He continued, “I request all concerned ministries/institutions to strengthen cooperation with development partners, the private sector and other relevant institutions. Concerning the agriculture sector and rural development, dialogue among various national and sub-national ministries and agencies will continue. Thus, development programs will be brought to completion in an effective and timely manner. We will also ensure transparency in the use of resources provided by development partners,” he said.

He continued, “I acknowledge that efficient state intervention in social affairs requires coordination and cooperation from all relevant stakeholders. Different Ministries, Institutions and Development Partners must all pull in the same direction if an effective safety net is to be created.”

Hang Chuon Narong, Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and Permanent Vice-Chairman of the Supreme National Economic Council, said that five years prior to the global financial crisis, Cambodia had an average annual growth rate of 10 percent with an increase in personal income of up to 75 percent.

Narong said that the key pillars of the growth included agriculture, construction, tourism, manufacturing and the service sectors. He pointed out that the global financial crisis lowered Cambodia’s growth to 6.7 percent in 2008, and the looks set to fall to 2.1 percent in 2009. This will reduce the availability of revenue for the Government and increase the size of the national debt.

He added that export growth was only 8.5 percent while imports reached 22.8 percent in 2008. This created a 66.3 percent rise in the trade deficit, equivalent to 21.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

UC’s Lecture on Thai Parliamentary Politics 2009

By BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

As part of the continuing Dr. Handa Eminent Lecture Series, a presentation on “Thai Parliamentary Politics 2009” was conducted by The University of Cambodia (UC) on June 6. The lecture was presented by Dr. Paul Chambers, Senior Research Fellow of Heidelberg University in Germany.

Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, UC President and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, introduced the lecture and said that it was important for students to learn about the politics of neighboring countries. The presentation also provided an opportunity for students to widen their field of interest beyond the scope of their chosen disciplines.

“This lecture is very important and useful for UC’s students and it will be an opportunity for them to learn about politics, development and international relations,” he said during his opening remarks.

Dr. Paul Chambers, Senior Research Fellow of Heidelberg University in Germany, said he was honored to be asked to deliver the presentation for The University of Cambodia.

Dr. Chambers said that the lecture would cover topics such as democracy, politics and Parliament in Thailand and why Thailand is currently experiencing political turmoil following the ousting of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

“No country meets the ideal of a perfect democracy but almost all countries are a variant of polyarchy or near democracy. Thailand is an example of a tutelary democracy as the Thai parliament is just an arena for proxy politics,” he said. “In effect, Thai democracy is under the control of the palace (Kingship) and privy councils.

He said pointed out that in the Western Parliamentary system, Parliament is the source of all political power. Thaksin Shinawatra attempted to strengthen this system in Thailand as Thai politics is based on such a model but he fell foul of the monarchy and bureaucracy. The balance of power shifts between the Monarchy and the Privy Council. The military and the police generally stand on the sidelines,” he said.

He said that since the coup against Thaksin Shinawatra on 19th September 2006, there have been many changes in Thailand’s democracy and politics including the examination of the Thai constitution in 2007, growth in military power and the power of the courts and a weakened parliamentary system.

He continued that from 2008 to 2009, the pro-Thaksin Parliamentary forces tried to change the constitution. These attempts were blocked by crowds outside the Parliament building. Subsequent events saw the judiciary bring down two prime ministers and five political parties. The result was the “Silent Coup” of December 2008.

He added that Thai parliamentary politics in 2009 – 2010 will be characterized by the struggle between pro and anti Thaksin forces. Democrats under current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva use the Bhumjai Thai Party to divide and conquer the pro-Thaksin Phoeur Thai Party. The picture is further complicated with the addition of eight other political parties, according to Dr. Chambers.

Pech Bunheang, a UC student who attended the presentation, said that he was impressed with the lecture. He said he found the topic interesting and he learned much about political conditions in Thailand today.


Chen Thearith: UC Scholarship Student of International relations

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Chen Thearith, 19, one of The University of Cambodia’s “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008” students, has provided an interview to The Southeast Asia Weekly on July 9. Thearith is the older of two brothers. His parents are farmers living in Tbong Khmom district, in Kampong Cham province where he born in 1990.

Thearith is now studying International Relations at the University of Cambodia. HE said he was relieved to have passed the scholarship exams from The University of Cambodia in 2008. They took away the financial strain of finding tuition fees.

Thearith pointed out that he studied at Tbong Khmum High School in Kampong Cham province, earning a Baccalaureate in 2008. He applied to study International Relations at UC following the introduction of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarships and “Samdech-Handa National Scholarships” in 2008.

“I decided to study International Relations with The University of Cambodia as I know that it is the best university in Cambodia. I course in International Relations will help me improve my English and if I am lucky, set me on track to becoming a diplomat,” he said.

Thearith pointed out that in studying at the University he has learned much. He drew attention to dramatic improvements in his ability to communicate in academic English.

“After a year of study here, I continue to enjoy my studies very much. I think that UC is the best university in Cambodia because it has qualified professors, excellent teaching facilities and a modern curriculum. As I am studying at other universities in Phnom Penh, I am qualified to draw the comparison,” he added.

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

Thearith said to reach his goal, he will study hard to earn the Bachelor’s degree. He will then continue to study for Master’s and Doctoral degrees with the University of Cambodia. He said that besides work with The University of Cambodia, he is now studying Civil Engineering at Norton University in Phnom Penh.

He said that he wanted to study Civil Engineering because he wanted a second string to his bow. If his dreams of diplomacy come to nothing, he will be able to develop the nation’s infrastructure.

“I enjoy both International Relations and Engineering. Whichever area of study promises to be most productive, there I will focus my concentration. Either way, my intent is to work towards a brighter future for my country,” he said.

To gain even more knowledge and life skills prior to his graduation, Thearith is now studying internet and computer skills at a private computer school in Phnom Penh. ///

The Ownership in Development Program in Cambodia

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

With financial support from the Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung fuer die Freiheit (FNS) organization and in coordination with the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), the Cambodian Institute for Development Studies (CIDS), has launched a new project called the “Ownership in Development Program”. The program was introduced on June 6 and it aims to promote ownership on the behalf of local stakeholders working on the development process in Cambodia.

According to Dr. Kang Chandararot, CIDS President, this is the first time that such a project has been organized in Cambodia. Its main objective is to encourage the sharing of development experience and insights at different levels of society and among different groups. The program will also identify methods to encourage a sense of ownership and personal responsibility, thus ensuring the fullest development advantage. The program will also provide plenty of opportunity to “brainstorm” new ideas, policies and strategies. Finally, the program will progress with full support from the nation’s media to maximize publicity and encourage transparency.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference held after the launching ceremony, Dr. Chandararot said, “I think that building a sense of ownership in the hearts and minds of local stakeholders is the most effective way to promote responsibility, transparency and accountability in development. Thus, this program will serve as a platform for discussion, analysis and the exchange of information.”

Dr. Chandararot said local involvement is necessary for sustainable development. However, involvement is not limited to the mere physical presence of locals in the development-decision making process. Their knowledge of local conditions will always be of supreme importance and communicating this knowledge forms just one aspect of involvement. He said the feeling of ownership determined the quality of involvement and motivation at community level.

Dr. Yang Saing Kuma, CEDAC President, said that until today, many Cambodians saw no role for themselves in the development-decision making process. Cambodian villagers saw themselves as dependent on foreign aid or government financial assistance, neither view being conducive to a sense of ownership or self determination.

“Now we want to change our peoples’ mindset so that they start thinking in terms of development and responsibility,” he said during his speech. “We think that if we are able to build ownership and promote participation in development, this will strengthen the fortunes of the country.”

Khim Sophannara, FNS Program Manager, said that to support the Ownership in Development Program, his organization will spend US$ 6,000 in support of CIDS per year. The donations are to be spent on transportation, accommodation and training materials.

Ngeth Seng, a Senior Project Development Officer in the Ministry of Rural Development, said the development programs and activities have really helped his ministry and the government to promote the concept of ownership.

“I appreciate and support CIDS’s Ownership in Development Program. I think that this program will certainly help the Royal Government of Cambodia to reduce poverty,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.



Cambodia, Vietnam Present Vovinam Demonstration in Phnom Penh

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

A joint Cambodian Vietnamese demonstration of the sport of Vovinam was held on July 6 at the National Stadium in Phnom Penh to illustrate the advantages of taking part in sporting activities. The competition was also a first step in the process of having the sport listed by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) as one worth studying.

The Cambodia Vovinam Federation (CVF) organized the demonstration. It involved representatives from the national Vovinam teams of both countries.

Rat Sokhorn, Advisor to the National Assembly President Samdech Heng Samrin and President of the Cambodian Vovinam Federation, said this was the second year that a Vovinam celebration has been held. The sport is known in Vietnam as Viet Vo Dao. It is a traditional martial art and MoEYS is looking to create a national team to represent Cambodia in international competition.

Both Cambodians and Vietnamese nationals share an enthusiasm for the sport and this is grounds enough to encourage an exchange of experience. It also provides an energetic and entertaining excuse for both nations to strengthen relations.

“As a result of this exchange, we hope that Cambodian Vovinam teams will improve their technique, cultivate the spirit of friendship and solidarity among all participating athletes and encourage our Vietnamese friends,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during a personal interview on July 6.

Sokhorn said he initially introduced this sport to Cambodia in 2005, with a reintroduction on November 19, 2008, with the establishment the Cambodia Vovinam Federation. Sokhorn added that the CVF would provide Vovinam training to high school students, police officers, the military police and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces so they can use it for self-defense.

He added that CVF also plans to send the Cambodian Vovinam Team to the Asian Indoor Games Competition which will be held over July 26 to 30, 2009. A Cambodian delegation will also be present at the World Vovinam Championships from October 31 to November 5 in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Chieu, Vice President of the Vietnam Vovinam Federation, National Technical Director of Vovinam Vietnam, and President of the Vovinam Association of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, said that the sport can trace its origins back to 1938. It involves both armed and unarmed combat and contestants may use their hands, elbows, feet and full contact wrestling moves. He said that currently in Vietnam, Vovinam is taught in over 200 schools and can count on the support of over 300,000 enthusiasts. The global Vovinam community is made up of 71 member countries, all represented by the World Vovinam Federation.
“All athletes participating in today’s Vovinam demonstration will learn from each other and together, we can promote Vovinam in Cambodia,” Van Chieu said. He added that as National Technical Director, he is qualified and ready to help with the coaching and training of Cambodian Vovinam athletes to bring them up to international standards.
Mel Kado, Deputy Director of the Youth and Sport Department in Ministry of Education Youth and Sport gave his full support for the Phnom Penh demonstration. To date, MoEYS has not included Vovinam as a ministry sport; yet given its popularity, the Ministry is soon to redress the omission.
“I am very pleased with the display. We will certainly be looking long and hard at including Vovinam in our curriculum. With further development, we should be able to take the sport to the point where we can win some medals at the level of international competition,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.
Nuth Srey Roath, 22, a Cambodian Vovinam trainer, said that she has been training in the discipline for just over four months. She said she preferred Vovinam because the sport allows the contestant to make full use of a wide array of fighting techniques and some classy-looking offensive weapons.
“This is my second opportunity to display my Vovinam skills side-by-side with Vietnamese contenders,” she said. “I hope that this friendly demonstration will allow me to learn some more skills.”

According to a CVF report, there are eight Vovinam clubs with 100 boxers in Cambodia. ////

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chan Tra: Life of a Cambodian Traditional Tattoo Artist

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Among tattooists in Cambodia, Chan Tra, 46, is the only tattoo artist to retain the ability to ink a wide range of subjects in different styles. His modern counterparts are limited in their repertoire in comparison. His subjects include the human form, birds and abstract patterns.

Chan Tra is now an expert in drawing Ankor Wat on the skin of foreign clients, thus turning them into walking, talking promotional materials for Cambodia’s tourist sector.

Chan Tra was born in 1963 in Sihanouk province and has two sons and one daughter. He is an orphaned and a Survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime. He lost his entire family during the years of terror between 1975 and 1979.

“I have loved drawing and painting ever since I was a child and practised my art every day before the arrival of the Pol Pot regime. Consequently, I like the art of tattooing and it makes a solid source of income to keep my wife and kids happy,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during a personal interview on June 30.

Chan Tra said that when he was a child, he always went to play by the riverside in Sihanouk province and it was there that he found the inspiration to draw pictures with his friends, just for the sheer pleasure of the activity.

Chan Tra continued to say that his drawings included pictures of boats, ships and mountains amongst other subjects and it was in these years that he set the foundations of his future career.
“From the age of ten, I began to paint pictures of boats beached on the sands in Sihanouk province. I enjoyed those innocent pleasures so much and each time I consider another customer’s skin, I am immediately in touch with that little boy once again,” he said.

Chan Tra pointed out that he was also inspired by artists who painted Buddhist scenes, following his move to Phnom Penh in 1981. Unable to attend formal training at art school, his furtive peeps at these artists at work outside the Royal University of Fine Arts, constituted his only training.

He said that when he returned home, he practiced by himself every night to hone his skills and increase his range. He added that when he was confident in the solidity of his art, he invested in a shop and tattooing needles and opened his first shop in 1997.

“I did have a bit of training from another tattoo artist, but I had developed this ability some years earlier as a seventeen-year-old. I am pleased to say that no subject is beyond my scope and I can make a tattoo to just about any specification the customer demands,” he said. “I am now happy because my dream has become true and I can also make money out of it. I will continue to expand my subjects in order to attract even more customers,” he said.

Chan Tra emphasized that he could tattoo all kinds of pictures including magical symbols, Khmer temples, the human form, and all kinds of birds and animals in the world and beyond it.
He went on to say that on an average week, he has around ten customers. He added that most of them are youngsters, hiring him to tattoo pictures of birds, tigers or dragons on their hands or torsos.

Concerning price, he said that depends on the colours used and the size of the pictures. He said that Cambodian patrons can expect to pay between US$ 10 up to US$ 100 per picture. For international patrons, the price goes up to around $200. He estimated he had worked on the skins of around 4000 people, domestic and international, since 1997. He added that foreign clients tended to come from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Philippines, Israel, and Singapore. They mostly requested pictures of Angkor Wat Temples or traditional Khmer designs.

Duong Sopheak, 23, a student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said that he has a picture of dragon on his back, produced by Chan Tra in 2008. Sopheak said he was very pleased with the finished result.

“I decided to have a dragon tattoo on my back because I think that it will make me more handsome and powerful. I will always go to Chan Tra because he has decades of tattooing experience and it shows in the outstanding quality of his art,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly on July 1.

Collin Glass, 34, a British tourist, was interviewed whilst getting a tattoo of a Bayon Temple Statue as well as a Yin Yang symbol. Glass said he believed in the power of protection conferred to him by the tattoos and he was very impressed with the quality of the art and the value for money.

Nationwide Undergraduate Sports Competition


BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Around 100 undergraduates from universities and faculties from five regions have taken part in the Nationwide Undergraduate Sports Competition from June 25 to the 9th July 2009 at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

The competition was organized by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport to promote student health, according to Kem Sy Huoth, Chief of the Administrative Office in the Ministry.

“The main purpose of the competition is to increase student participation in sports. These competitions will promote good physical health and draw attention away from undesirable behavior such as drug abuse,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview.

Sy Huoth said that this year’s undergraduate sports competition would be divided into categories for both male and female contenders. There will be a football tournament, a volleyball competition, basketball and an athletics meet. In all cases, two competitions will be arranged for male and female teams. He added that the athletics meet would include the shot put, javelin, discuss, the long jump and running.

There will be gold, silver and bronze medals for the winners and runners-up as well as other attractive prizes. These have been provided by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport.

Touch Sothearith of the Human Resources University’s Basket Ball team took part in the competition. He said that it marked the fourth time since 2006 that his team had been in action at the annual event. On each occasion, his team came second.

“Second is a respectable position for us. However, after all our hard work and training, we would like to come first once or twice. Maybe next year will be our lucky year and we will take home the first prize,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly on July 2.

Keo Tharorth, a Football player representing Steung Treng Regional Teacher Training Center, said his team was competing for the first time in the competition. He said that he and his team members have also been training hard for many months in preparation.

“I enjoy the competition and I am sure we will all do our best. If we are not successful this year, well, it is not the winning; it is the taking part that counts. We will learn from the experience and train all the harder next year,” he said. ///

Training to Prevent Human Trafficking, Drug Abuse and Traffic Accidents

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The National Culture and Morality Center (NCMC) has provided training for 3,150 people including hotel and guest house owners, street children, child laborers and former drug addicts. Representatives from Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang, Kandal and Takeo provinces will be trained in how to detect cases of human trafficking and drug abuse. They will also be given guidance in how to prevent traffic accidents.

About 150 people including hotel and guest houses owners and representatives of disadvantaged youth attended the training in Phnom Penh. It was conducted by the NCMC, in collaboration with the Phnom Penh Municipal Traffic Police Office, the Anti-Human Trafficking Police Office, and the Anti-Drugs Police Office of the Ministry of the Interior.

Po Samnang, President of NCMC, a local Non-Governmental Organization formed in 1992, said that the training program was supported and funded by the General Police Commissioner and the National Authority for Combating Drugs in the Ministry of Interior.

The training sought to raise awareness of the issues amongst the demographics most likely to be affected said Samnang. He continued, “The main objective is to train the target working groups so that they can join the government and make a practical contribution to combating these problems in Cambodia,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview on July 2.

Samnang said that moral standards continued to decline, probably a result of poverty and residual trauma left over from the years of terror. It created a situation in which an unholy trinity of drugs, people smuggling and irresponsible road use threatened to undermine the economy. He continued, “Drugs, human trafficking and road traffic accidents are now a major concern. Without appropriate action, the Cambodian economy, the society and development efforts will be threatened. Therefore, we must work together to combat the problems,” he said.

Samnang pointed out that in 2008, 50 hotel owners, 117 guest house owners and over 2,000 youths received training in the areas detailed above. Samnang went on to say that his organization would continue with such training for as long as necessary. He continued to say that since establishment of the NCMC in 1992, over 200, 0000 people, mostly youths and students had received advice form the organization.

Kao Khon Dara, Deputy General Secretary of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, a wing of the Ministry of the Interior, supported the work of the NCMC. He said their efforts had been of great service to the Ministry of the Interior, not to mention the many thousands of individuals who had benefited from good advice. He also said the government supported these drives with a raft of appropriate laws to tackle human trafficking, drug abuse and poor road sense.

He called on members of the public, concerned ministries, institutions, communities and involved NGOs to join together and continue their work in combating these evils. He suggested the benefits would be seen in future improvements in safety and prosperity for Cambodia. ////

Cambodia Claims Dengue Fever Disrupted People’s Lives

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The National Malaria Center Director Dr. Duong Socheat has said that dengue fever is one among many cruel and potentially fatal diseases to affect Cambodians.

“Dengue fever is completely preventable. Why then do we allow it to infect our children and why do we risk their lives when the solution is easy to implement?” he asked, during opening remark delivered to the Ant Dengue Campaign on June 30 in Phnom Penh.

Dr. Socheat said people could beat the scourge of dengue fever through simple measures such as keeping the domestic environment and the wider community clean, paying attention to areas where rainwater might pool, and using mosquito nets at night.

“I appeal to everybody to join the anti dengue fever campaign and to help us with this simple work. These tasks are straightforward, they involve no heavy work and they might just save the life of someone you hold dear,” he said.

Dr. Ngan Chantha, Deputy Director of the National Malaria Center, and Manager of the Dengue Fever Program, said the dengue virus claims the lives of at least 100 people every year in Cambodia.

Currently, Dr. Chantha said the disease has caused serious disruption in a number of cities and provinces in Cambodia including Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Takeo, Kratie and Prey Veng provinces.

He said that that the pattern of infection varied from province to province, some areas recording infections over large, concentrated areas, others noting infections in numerous scattered pockets. This makes the task of eradicating the disease all the more difficult for the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

During the first six months in this year, 3, 333 cases of dengue have been reported – all requiring hospital treatment. Sadly, 10 children have died because of the infection, according to a report revealed by Chantha.

He said in 2008, 1,811 people were affected by the disease and 23 people died; and in 2007, 12, 858 people caught the disease and 250 people died. These unfortunate statistics were recorded over the same 24-week period each year. He added that on average, 5 percent of the population can expect to have at least one struggle with the disease.

“Cambodia still has a long time to run before this season’s dangers are passed. I appeal to you all to be careful and take care of your children and other family members. We should work together to reduce these avoidable losses. Only in this way can we win the fight against dengue, malaria and the other deadly diseases that affect our nation,” he said.

He pointed out that dengue is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Dengue may also be transmitted via infected blood products including blood transfusions, plasma and platelets.

He said that so far, the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have worked hard to teach people about the risks and preventative measures. He concluded by advising everyone to seek medical attention the moment they register dengue symptoms.

John Dickerson, Representative of the S.C Johnson Company, responsible for the “Raid” and “Off” brand of insecticides, said that his company has been active in Cambodia since 2005. He suggested that his company’s advertising campaigns and products may well be responsible for preventing many thousands of dengue infections. For instance, S.C. Johnson was responsible for posting flyers to over 4,000 houses in Phnom Penh detailing the threats. He promised to continue working in harmony with the Ministry of Health to reduce levels of infection.

Am Pov On Course To Become IT Expert.

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

One of The University of Cambodia’s “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarship 2007” students, Am Pov, 29, has provided an interview to The Southeast Asia Weekly on June 30. He is the third in a family of five brothers and two sisters. The family lives in Baseth district, Kampong Speu Province, where he born in 1980.

Am Pov is a Buddhist monk staying at the Svay Porpe Pagoda in Phnom Penh. In addition, he studies Information Technology (IT) with The University of Cambodia. To claim his position, he passed scholarship exams offered by The University of Cambodia in August 2007.

“I became a Buddhist monk in 1997 when I was living in Korng Pisey district in Kampong Speu province. I decided to join the Pagoda because it offered me the chance to study both Dharma and gain a foundation in general education. My aim was – and still is – to support my family and help develop my nation,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview on June 30.

Am Pov said that as a monk, he stayed at the Chottenaram pagoda located in Korng Pisey district and later, he moved to the Sothanavong Pagoda, also known as the Phar Daek Pagoda in Otdong district in Kampong Speu province. Whilst there, he continued his studies at the Buddhist Secondary School.

In 2000, he moved to the Thamikaram pagoda to study the Pali language at a Buddhist Pali School in Battambang province. The next stop on his list was the Svay Porpey Pagoda, with further study at the Preah Sangkhareach Bou Kry Buddhist High School in Phnom Penh. He earned his Baccalaureate there in 2007. Consequently, he applied to study IT at UC following introduction of the “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships” in 2007.

“I was relieved to pass the 2007 scholarship exams offered by the University of Cambodia. Without the scholarship, I doubt I would be able to enjoy the benefits of higher education with UC. I will work hard to demonstrate my gratitude to the University authorities. If possible, I would like to take the course all the way to post graduate level. Yes, it is a pipe-dream at the moment, but the scholarship providers have given me the potential to realize it,” he said.

He decided to study Information Technology at the University of Cambodia because of the University’s excellent reputation. “I decided to study IT because when I take all the advantages into account – the fully equipped IT labs, the credit system and the English language policy - UC offers the best chance for me to achieve my goals,” he said.

Am Pov said that besides his studies at UC, he is now studying a short course on Administration and Accounting Skills offered by the Save the Poor Organization in Phnom Penh. This will provide him with an additional set of skills essential to survival in the professional world.

“I will be graduating in two years,” he said. “And I want to equip myself with the full range of transferable skills well before this.”

Peanh Rony, a Buddhist Monk living at Svay Porpey Pagoda and friend to Am Pov, said he appreciated Pov’s capacity for hard work.

Rony said that he has known Am Pov since 2001, when they studied together at the Preah Sangkhareach Bou Kry Buddhist High School in Phnom Penh.

He said that in the pagoda where he stayed, Am Pov developed a reputation for being gentle, friendly, honest and helpful.

“I am pleased to know Am Pov. He has a well defined dream and the drive necessary to achieve it,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.

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Education Minister Warns Officials Against Irregularities

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) has announced that high-ranking officials have been involved in irregular activities, using their positions to make money via replacement of students, teachers and Ministry officers across the country.

Im Sethy, Minister for Education Youth and Sport, said that in recent years, many education officials have been involved with these practices. He said these activities could only have a negative effect on the Ministry’s reputation and honor and would inevitably lead to ugly accusations of corruption.

“I have noted that many senior ministry officials receive money from teachers or education officers to expedite their replacement or transfer to another position. This activity constitutes an offense and it has called the honor of the Ministry into question. Therefore, I appeal to all officials to avoid involvement in this business; there is no place for it in a reformed education system. These are public funds for our Ministry and they are not to be exploited for private gain,” he said during opening remarks delivered to an education reform workshop on July 2 in Phnom Penh.

The Minister pointed out that in recent years, schoolmasters and education officials have been involved in the sale of lands earmarked for schools, renovations and new school sites being shifted to alternative locations for the sake of appearances.

He called on school directors and governing committees to stop selling state property and work closely with his ministry. If a school must be relocated, then official reports are to be sent to the Ministry seeking permission.

Referring to education reform, Im Sethy said that, based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister on December 3, 2008, MoEYS is reforming the administrative and financial management of schools to strengthen the ministry’s oversight and to enhance the quality of education in Cambodia.

Minister Im Sethy said that in phase II of the Rectangular Strategy, the Royal Government of Cambodia focused on reform of public finance and administrative management. In line with this decree, MoEYS will reform its budgeting accountability and tighten education management and administration.

“In this, the second phase of the Rectangular Strategy, the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport will promote financial accountability and make public demonstrations of our ability to manage our finances. We have created a financial strategy and budget program that is geared to the promotion of the efficient use of public resources. This strategy will flourish in the transparent light of day and accountability,” he said.

The Minister said that the MoEYS action plans aimed at reform of the Ministry’s administration, policies, sources of income and financial reports. With these measures in place, parents can be assured that their children are getting the best education services the nation has to offer.

Recent education reform measures have been accomplished with cooperation from the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Minister said one of these initial steps – the first of many – included the establishment of a group of financial specialists who will serve as advisors, coordinators and financial enablers. They will be responsible for the introduction of education reform measures and the tightening of financial matters.

“We hope that with the reform of the education sector, along with related financial and administrational offices, we will see great improvements in the quality of the service we offer our children,” he said.

According to MoEYS, there are 3,403, 751 students, 106,300 teachers, 1,634 public kindergartens, 6,476 public primary schools, 1,006 public junior high schools, and 315 secondary schools in Cambodia. ////

Friday, July 3, 2009

Am Pov On Course To Become IT Expert.

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

One of The University of Cambodia’s “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarship 2007” students, Am Pov, 29, has provided an interview to The Southeast Asia Weekly on June 30. He is the third in a family of five brothers and two sisters. The family lives in Baseth district, Kampong Speu Province, where he born in 1980.

Am Pov is a Buddhist monk staying at the Svay Porpe Pagoda in Phnom Penh. In addition, he studies Information Technology (IT) with The University of Cambodia. To claim his position, he passed scholarship exams offered by The University of Cambodia in August 2007.

“I became a Buddhist monk in 1997 when I was living in Korng Pisey district in Kampong Speu province. I decided to join the Pagoda because it offered me the chance to study both Dharma and gain a foundation in general education. My aim was – and still is – to support my family and help develop my nation,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview on June 30.

Am Pov said that as a monk, he stayed at the Chottenaram pagoda located in Korng Pisey district and later, he moved to the Sothanavong Pagoda, also known as the Phar Daek Pagoda in Otdong district in Kampong Speu province. Whilst there, he continued his studies at the Buddhist Secondary School.

In 2000, he moved to the Thamikaram pagoda to study the Pali language at a Buddhist Pali School in Battambang province. The next stop on his list was the Svay Porpey Pagoda, with further study at the Preah Sangkhareach Bou Kry Buddhist High School in Phnom Penh. He earned his Baccalaureate there in 2007. Consequently, he applied to study IT at UC following introduction of the “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships” in 2007.

“I was relieved to pass the 2007 scholarship exams offered by the University of Cambodia. Without the scholarship, I doubt I would be able to enjoy the benefits of higher education with UC. I will work hard to demonstrate my gratitude to the University authorities. If possible, I would like to take the course all the way to post graduate level. Yes, it is a pipe-dream at the moment, but the scholarship providers have given me the potential to realize it,” he said.

He decided to study Information Technology at the University of Cambodia because of the University’s excellent reputation. “I decided to study IT because when I take all the advantages into account – the fully equipped IT labs, the credit system and the English language policy - UC offers the best chance for me to achieve my goals,” he said.

Am Pov said that besides his studies at UC, he is now studying a short course on Administration and Accounting Skills offered by the Save the Poor Organization in Phnom Penh. This will provide him with an additional set of skills essential to survival in the professional world.

“I will be graduating in two years,” he said. “And I want to equip myself with the full range of transferable skills well before this.”

Peanh Rony, a Buddhist Monk living at Svay Porpey Pagoda and friend to Am Pov, said he appreciated Pov’s capacity for hard work.

Rony said that he has known Am Pov since 2001, when they studied together at the Preah Sangkhareach Bou Kry Buddhist High School in Phnom Penh.

He said that in the pagoda where he stayed, Am Pov developed a reputation for being gentle, friendly, honest and helpful.

“I am pleased to know Am Pov. He has a well defined dream and the drive necessary to achieve it,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.

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UC Students Present Entertainment and Fashion Show

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Over 500 students from The University of Cambodia (UC) attended the “Student’s Entertainment Show” in Phnom Penh on June 21. The UC Student Senate and UC Debate Club, both active and energetic organizations of The University of Cambodia, organized the Show.

The program included singing in both Khmer and English, and a display of traditional Khmer and modern fashions. There were also modern dance performances and an extra special talent show. All of this was produced and presented by students of the University.

UC President Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that the student show is organized every year as a way to celebrate the University’s anniversary and to have some fun after the end of a hard term’s work.

The event provides opportunities for UC students to learn how to work and manage their social activities, all part of the latent functions of university life, he said, adding that the show marked the 6th Anniversary of the establishment of The University of Cambodia.

“This well thought out program has given the organizers an insight into leadership and responsibility and this has been achieved at the same time as having fun,” he said during opening remarks at the Entertainment Show.

To prepare for their future, the students are necessarily required to perform well academically, but here at The University of Cambodia we provide an environment where valuable lessons in life are learned outside the class as well, he told the students.

Dr. Kao pointed out that successful students must be prepared both physically and mentally to reach their goals. If they lack conviction and fail to pay attention to their studies, they will not succeed.

“I strongly believe that the UC Entertainment and Fashion Show reflects the success of this two-front approach to education. Our students have excelled both in the classroom and in the application of leadership and organization theories to bring us this enjoyable event. I admire and appreciate all your efforts,” he said.

“This event marks the 6th anniversary of the founding of The University of Cambodia. She was opened on 23rd June 2003 and to this date, we have worked tirelessly to improve the pool of human resources available to our country,” he added.

Chheng Sovannka, President of the UC Student Senate, said that the entertainment and fashion show aimed to provide an excellent opportunity for UC students to build confidence and individual talent. She also hoped to create goodwill via promotion of the valuable culture of the nation. The event, she said, was a product of collaboration, tolerance, teamwork and a solid public relations drive. The result was an evening of decent entertainment.

Sovannka said that another objective of the event was to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the founding of The University of Cambodia and to encourage Cambodian youths to contribute to society and promote the identity and cultural values of the nation.

She noted that to encourage UC students to contribute to society, the UC Student Senate and UC Student Debate Club have organized four other important events to date. These included keynote presentations on matters such as “Youth and Civil Society: What can Students Learn from Civil Society Leaders?” Another important and very well attended presentation was on the topic “How to Apply for International Scholarships: Sharing Experience and Success.” The Senate has also been active in the social field with the “Students Reach Out to Children Living at the Dumpsite” initiative. The senate was also responsible for organizing the Khmer New Year Celebrations.

She added that besides these events, the UC Student Senate and UC Students plan to organize an additional five events. There will be a “Workshop on Learning” in July. The Intra-University Debate Competition will see UC teams in action in August. There will be a “Welcome Week” for new students in September and a field trip to Sihanouk Province will take place in November. Finally, there will be a Charity Donation Drive organized for December 2009.

Touch Meng, General Director of Champa Bridal Services whose company sponsored the fashion show said that he was very pleased to see UC students modeling the traditional Khmer clothes created by his company.

Meng said that the fashion show would present students with an insight into the richness and detail of traditional ways of dressing. He hoped to see more people decked out in traditional clothes during important events in the future.

“I am proud to sponsor the fashion show for the students of UC. I think the younger generation should keep their eyes on the past so that the splendors of our culture will not be lost to time. I also look forward to seeing a number of UC students choosing traditional clothing for their weddings. I will certainly be sponsoring future UC events as they provide great entertainment”, he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.

Veng Soklim, a UC student who participated in the event, said that he was thrilled to be asked to help with the show.

“I really enjoyed the evening’s fun and celebrations. I learned a lot about my identity and my culture and I learned these lessons in a most enjoyable way,” he said. ///






Cambodia Announces Presence of A/H1N1 Case

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Government has confirmed the presence of the influenza A/ H1N1 virus in Cambodia and called on Cambodian people to be careful, but to avoid panic.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that four people have been affected with the A/H1N1 virus and a further six people are under the strict observation of Cambodian medical authorities.

Samdech Hun Sen said that the four cases are the first to be discovered in Cambodia, following the spread of the virus in neighboring countries and regions.

“We have four A/H1N1 cases in Cambodia now, but we should not be surprised by this situation. I appeal to all people in Cambodia to be careful and not to panic. Some countries have experienced thousands of cases but they manage to keep the situation in perspective,” he said during opening remarks delivered to a graduation ceremony on June 25 in Phnom Penh.

“We have to take care and treat those infected people until they get better. We will not allow them to go back their countries because it will infect other people on the plane or other countries en route,” he said.

The Prime Minister called on the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, other concerned authorities, and relevant NGOs to take all measures against the spread of the virus.

Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health, said that so far, the virus has affected four people and a further six people are being monitored by his ministry.

Dr. Bunheng confirmed that the four people are students, including three females and one male aged between 16 and 20. They arrived from Texas through Phnom Penh International Airport on June 18. He pointed out that his ministry found the first swine flu case in a 16-year-old girl on June 23 after she arrived in Phnom Penh on June 19.

He added the four are now staying under his ministry’s supervision in an isolation room together, with regular examinations from doctors at the Calmette Hospital. They are also prevented from leaving the hospital.

In dealing with the appearance of the A/H1N1 virus, Dr. Bunheng said that his ministry has already prepared isolation rooms and other facilities at principle hospitals in cities and provinces across the country.

The Minister said that his ministry has also installed thermal scanners at the airports including International Phnom Penh Airport and Siem Reap Airport. Other important checkpoints have been set up at the International Poipet Checkpoint, Koh Kong Checkpoint and Bavet Checkpoint in Svay Rieng Province.

He added that the ministry has also prepared about 300,000 doses of medicine, along with other medical supplies and equipment, and has distributed this material to all the state hospitals and health centers throughout the country.
"To prevent the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, in partnership with the World Health Organization, will continue to monitor the situation very closely and keep the public well informed of any updates as they happen in Cambodia," he told the joint press conference on June 25.

The minister called on the public to practice good personal hygiene at all times to prevent the spread of Influenza A/H1N1 or report to the hospitals or health centers for treatment whenever infection is suspected.

Dr. Michael O’Leary, WHO Representative in Cambodia, said that Cambodia is the latest country to be affected by the spread of the A/H1N1 virus.

Dr. O’Leary said that so far, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, including Cambodia, China and Thailand, and has killed at least 250 people, while infecting as many as 56,000 people around the world.

He added that to prevent the spread of the A/H1N1 virus in Cambodia, WHO will cooperate, closely with the Cambodian government to provide as solid a guarantee of good health as possible. ////


Cambodian Government Marks International Anti-Drug Day

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia has marked International Anti-Drugs Day at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on June 26. The event underlined the dangers of the spread of drugs in Cambodia. The celebration was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife.

About 10,000 students, former drug addicts, police and government officials attended the Anti-Drug gathering. It was organized by the National Authority for Combating Drug in Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in Cambodia.

The Premier said the drug problem is a global issue but it is now becoming a main concern in Cambodia. He added that Cambodia has now become one of the more notorious drug hubs in the region and the number of people using drugs has increased. This will certainly have a negative effect on the Cambodian economy and society.

Roughly 46,000 people use illegal drugs in Cambodia and the rate is thought to be on the increase, according to a report issued by the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations, the Prime Minister said.

“We have calculated that if each person pays as little as US$3 for drugs, we loose about US$50 million every year. This amount of money has been spent illegally and the waste is entirely unnecessary,” he said during his opening remarks at the International Anti-Drug Day.

To reduce drug abuse and smuggling, Prime Minister Hun Sen recommended hard work from the National Authority for Combating Drugs and law enforcement agencies. They have the authority to take strict action against drugs abuses and smuggling activities, and to punish criminals with all the might of the law.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also said that users face a real chance of contracting the HIV/AIDS virus because they shared needles to inject drugs.

“I think that we have to work together and take timely action to prevent the spread of drugs across the country,” he said. “We have to educate our people and organize regular public campaigns everywhere to promote understanding about the dangers and difficulties associated with drug abuse."

Ke Kimyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Authority for Combating Drugs in the Ministry of Interior, said Cambodia is not a country producing drugs. However, international drug cartels view the nation as an ideal staging post in spreading their wares to other countries.

To crack down on these activities in Cambodia, Ke Kimyan said that the National Authority for Combating Drugs has been working hard with its partners to hold campaigns and to educate the people so they will understand the problems and avoid drugs completely.

According to a report released by the National Authority, it has investigated 1,714 cases of drug crime and charged 3,514 suspects. About four tons of drug-making materials and equipment used in methamphetamine labs were seized in Kampong Speu province in April 2009. ///

Chheng Sovannka on Course for Leadership Position

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Chheng Sovannka, 20, one of The University of Cambodia’s Samdech Techo Hun Sen Vision-100 Scholarship 2007 students, has described her wishes and life as a student.

Chheng Sovannka was born in 1989 in Phnom Penh and she is the oldest of three sisters. Her father is an officer working with the National Authority for Combating Drugs in the Ministry of Interior and her mother is a house-maker.

Sovannka is now studying English Literature at the University of Cambodia as well as Accounting at the Royal University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. She passed the scholarship exams offered by the University of Cambodia in 2007.

“I passed the scholarship exams with grade B. I now enjoy the benefits of study for free, thanks to the generosity of the University authorities,” she told the Southeast Asia Weekly on April 24.

Sovannka pointed out that she studied at Preah Sisowath High School in Phnom Penh, earning a Baccalaureate in 2007. She applied to study English Literature at UC following the introduction of the scholarships.

“After completion of my studies, I will apply for work with private companies or international organizations and will use my knowledge to work for the interests of people across the world,” she added.

She continued that she decided to study English Literature with UC because she wishes to be an English Lecturer. Alternatively, she sees herself as a future leader in Cambodia.

She told the Southeast Asia Weekly that since she has been studying English with UC, her linguistic abilities have improved dramatically and she is able to read, write and speak well, as she must in her capacity of President of The University of Cambodia student Senate.

She added that when she completes her graduation with UC, she plans to apply for a Master’s degree in English Literature or Accounting in Japan.

Sovannka said that besides her study at UC, she is also studying Accounting. As a second string to her bow, this will open up the possibility of work for foreign companies or NGO’s.

Sovannka said that besides her studies she is the current President of The University of Cambodia Student Senate. She was elected to this position in early 2009.

“I am happy that I am working towards success. Nevertheless, to reach my goal, I have to study harder to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature in the next two years. I will then apply for foreign scholarships to study for a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Japan,” she said.

Sovannka said that since she was elected President in early 2009, she has been working hard organizing UC Student Senate events. These provide opportunities for UC students to build up confidence and individual talent. They create goodwill via promotion of the culture of Cambodia. Active senate members also learn the benefits of collaboration, tolerance and teamwork.


“Although I am now very busy and working hard, I really enjoy with my work. I am learning a lot from them and these lessons will be relevant in future. In addition, I am also able to work for my classmates and UC students in general. Most importantly, this position gives me a chance to help the less well-to-do and promote progress in Cambodia,” she said.

She said that her dream is to be an activist fighting for women’s rights, raising their profile, encouraging self-confidence and self reliance.

Lieutenant Colonel Chin Samon, Chief of the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Containments Control Office is Sovannka’s father and he is very happy with his daughter’s efforts. He also said that Sovannka is the only one of his three daughters studying at the University of Cambodia and that she has been attending schools since the age of five.

He said that when his daughter was at primary and high school, she studied very hard every day and as a result, she was always one of the top ten students in her schools.

He pointed out that in 2007, Sovannka passed three scholarship exams from the University of Cambodia, the Institute of Foreign Language and the Royal University of Law and Economic Sciences.

He continued that he ordered his daughter to cancel her studies at the Institute of Foreign Languages and concentrate on The University of Cambodia.

He added that to do her schoolwork as well as serve as UC Student Senate President Sovannka studies very hard every night. Sometimes, she has to work until 1 or 2 am at the morning.

“I pity my daughter very much because she works very hard everyday and night. However, I am very honored and proud as I have a good daughter. I think that she will eventually reach her goals,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during a telephone interview on June 24.

“I will encourage and support her to obtain a higher degree in future and I wish her all the best of luck and success,” he added. ////