Thursday, April 23, 2009

KR momentos up for sale likely fake, officials insist


Written by Sam Rith
Thursday, 23 April 2009

Former Tuol Sleng photographer Nhem En is trying to sell what he says are Pol Pot's sandals, Tuol Sleng cameras.

Nhem En with his cameras and Pol Pot's purported sandals in Siem Reap.
GOVERNMENT officials and members of civil society have expressed doubt over the authenticity of sandals supposedly worn by Pol Pot and a pair of cameras that former Khmer Rouge photographer Nhem En says come from Tuol Sleng prison.
On Sunday, Nhem En said he wanted national and international companies to bid on the shoes, made from tyre rubber, and cameras at a starting price of US$500,000, even though outside sources have not confirmed their provenance.
Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said it would be difficult to determine if the sandals were actually worn by Pol Pot, for the simple reason that many sandals look the same.
Nhem En was unable to provide the Post with any evidence that the shoes were Pol Pot's or that his cameras had come from the infamous torture centre.
But he disagreed with Youk Chhang, saying that their authenticity could be proven "with modern technology".
The former Tuol Sleng guard who photographed prisoners said he received the shoes in 2000 from General Khim Tean, a former Khmer Rouge army commander, and that he had personally brought the cameras from Tuol Sleng to his father's house in 1977. Many, however, remain sceptical.
"I do not believe [the shoes and cameras] are real, because I have not seen them yet," said Culture Minister Him Chhem.
Pen Samitthy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists and editor-in-chief of Rasmey Kampuchea, turned down Nhem En's request to hold a press conference announcing the sale. Nhem En said he will hold his own press conference on Friday in Siem Reap.
Poverty = Desperation. Cambodians will sell anything to make a "buck" even if it means devaluing their own history or cultural heritage.

Evicted to life in limbo


Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 23 April 2009

Thousands of people living in Phnom Penh slums say they will soon be relocated, and many fear their new homes could bring more hardship.

Chun Bunthol, from Phnom Penh's Rik Reay community, stacks car tyres to be burned in protest against the construction of the Bassac Garden City, a residential project that Rik Reay villagers say will force them from their homes. He told the Post that a demonstration planned for Wednesday had been put off because the developers did not come to the work site, "but we have prepared everything. ... If they do something to us, we will protest. We are waiting for them". Rik Reay is one of several Phnom Penh communities facing destruction at the hands of development companies. The posters on the wall read, "The company is causing us great pain" and "If you want the land, you have to buy it. You cannot use a gun"
As I am doing research into local affordable housing issues, I can't help but compare it to the stark contrast of the lack of housing equity in Cambodia. Affordable housing there is made up of some pieces of sheet metal, cardboard, or if you're lucky, some bamboo strips and thatch. There is no equity in housing development in Cambodia.
Country leaders are being driven by the needs/wants/desires/hunger of developers (both national and foreign) who can shell out endless amounts of money without concern for the real needs of the county's citizens.
I guess that is left up to the non-government organizations to deal with. Poor people are not considered good investments, apparently, but the land they live or squat on is worth more than they're being compensated.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pain of Khmer Rouge Era Lost on Cambodian Youth

Published: April 7, 2009

TRAPAENG SVA, Cambodia — Sum Touch has stopped trying to tell her grandchildren about the killings, starvation and terror she lived through when a Communist Khmer Rouge regime ravaged Cambodia 30 years ago.

Seth Mydans/The International Herald Tribune

Visitors looked at skulls displayed in a memorial at Choeung Ek, one of Cambodia's killing fields during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, during which 1.7 million people were killed.

“It seems that even if I tell them they don’t believe what I say,” said Mrs. Sum Touch, 71, who lost many members of her family. “It hurts my heart that they don’t know what happened.”

There is a former killing field nearby and a shed filled with the skulls and bones of some of the victims. But many of the young people here, it seems, have no idea why or how they got there.

As it struggles to leave its past behind, Cambodia today suffers from a particularly painful generation gap: those who survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and their children and grandchildren, who know very little about it.

“I don’t like it, but what can you do?” said Ty Leap, 52, who sells noodles and fruit drinks from a roadside stall. “It really is unbelievable that those things happened.”

For nearly four years, from 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, overwork and disease as well as torture and execution as they tried to construct a harsh peasant utopia.

Almost everyone here of a certain age has stories to tell of terror, abuse, hunger and the loss of family members. But those stories often fall on the deaf ears of a new generation that either cannot conceive of such brutality or seems unwilling to learn about it.

“Some older people get so upset at their children for not believing that they say, ‘I wish the Khmer Rouge time would happen again; then you’d believe it,’ ” Mr. Ty Leap said.

As much as 70 percent of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30, and four out of five members of this young generation know little or nothing about the Khmer Rouge years, according to a survey last fall by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

That ignorance — among both young and older — seems also to embrace the trials of five major Khmer Rouge figures that began last month, a process that is meant, in part, to begin a process of healing and closure.

Read more here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Cambodia Drives up HIV/AIDS Awareness

I just wonder how they get so many people to take a drivers license test.

Cambodian Government Plans To Use Drivers License Tests To Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness

In an effort to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among drivers -- particularly professional truck drivers, many of whom visit commercial sex workers while on the road -- the Cambodian government plans to add questions about the disease to the driver's license exam administered by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Phnom Penh Post reports. The test later this year will include approximately 12 questions about HIV/AIDS. The ministry receives about 2,000 applications for licenses monthly, Keo Savin of the Land Transport Department said, adding that there are 1.14 million registered cars and motorbikes and 405,00 registered drivers in Cambodia. The project is receiving support from the Asian Development Bank.

According to Ung Chun Hour, the ministry's director-general of transport, the ministry is collaborating with the National AIDS Authority at the Ministry of Health to finalize the questions. Chun Hour said, "It is important that drivers -- particularly professional drivers -- know about HIV/AIDS. Professional truck drivers live far from home and are more likely to use sex partners."

Teng Kunthy, secretary-general of the National Aids Authority, said plans to include questions about HIV/AIDS on driving tests come in light of the fact that Cambodia's roads are improving, resulting in more truck drivers traveling within Cambodia and to other neighboring countries, the Post reports. He said, "We are worried that when they stop along their route, they often look for sex partners -- that's why we want to educate them during their driving test, so they know to take care of themselves." According to Kunthy, the next stage is to raise awareness among people who live on the busiest trucking routes (Channyda/Kunthear, Phnom Penh Post, 3/27).