Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GREATER MEKONG COUNTRIES DISCUSS ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

PHNOM PENH, Sep 30, 2009
(AsiaPulse via COMTEX)

Officials from several agencies of the member countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (Gms) are gathering in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to discuss the development of energy in the sub region.

On Sept. 29, the first day of the conference, the participants focused their attention on each member country's energy policy and a case study on energy trading in the context of an expanding GMS market.

They are scheduled to discuss developing human resources, marketing, e-governance and the development of a business network. Also on the agenda will be talks on promoting cooperation in energy, transport, telecommunications, tourism and the environment.

Vietnam sent a top level delegation to the conference, including officials from the Vietnam Electricity Group, the Ministry of Industry and Trades Energy, Oil and Gas Department, plus representatives from the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Groups electricity development projects and PetroVietnam's Centre for Research and Development.

Apart from the GMS members - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Myanmar, the two-day conference also drew officials from world leading energy groups such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, GE Energy as well as officials from several foreign embassies in Phnom Penh.

(VNA) cg

Firms focus on Cambodia market

30-09-2009
Source: vietnamnews

HCM CITY — Vietnamese companies should focus on their strong points to improve their position in the Cambodian market, heard a meeting held last Friday by the Viet Nam-Laos-Cambodia Association for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Speaking at the meeting held in HCM City to discuss improving Vietnamese business prospects in Cambodia, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Danh Vinh said: "Viet Nam should increase investment in tropical agricultural produce like coffee, rice, pepper and cashews which are the country’s strengths."

"Besides, rubber and garments are also Viet Nam’s key areas," he said.

Compared to other countries in the region, Viet Nam has an abundant labour force thanks to its young population and it should export labour to the neighbouring nation.

Yeav Kim Hean, commercial counsellor at the Cambodian Embassy in Viet Nam, was delighted at the recent expansion in bilateral co-operation in various areas.

More than 100 Vietnamese companies have a presence in Cambodia, including some big ones like the Viet Nam Rubber Group, Vietnam Airlines, Electricity of Viet Nam, the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam, and the Military-run Telecom Corporation (Viettel).
"The Cambodian Government facilitates investments by foreign companies, including from Viet Nam, in areas like agriculture, small- and medium-sized enterprises, energy, mining, transport and tourism." Hean said.

Phuong Huu Viet, vice chairman of the association, said: "Vietnamese businesses should possess up-to-date information about Cambodian laws, financial and tax policies, and local habits and customs."

Le Minh Dien of the Ministry of Planning and Investment said as of last February, Viet Nam had invested US$211.2 million in 39 projects in Cambodia, $115.9 in the argo-forestry sector, $59.5 million in services, and $35.8 million in the industrial sector.

Vinh said last month the two countries signed a large number of contracts for investment of over $460 million into Cambodia. —VNS

Open Letter: Thanks for Your Support to Seek Justice for our Khmer-Krom Human Rights Activists

Posted at: www.khmerkrom.org

On behalf of the KKF Board of Directors and members, I would like to thank for your valuable time, courage, support, and financial donation to support Tim Sakhorn and five former Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who were imprisoned injustice in Vietnam.

First of all, on June 30, 2007 , Ven. Tim Sakhorn is a former Buddhist monk who was defrocked by monks who work for the Vietnamese government's interest: Tep Vong, Non Nghet, Om Lam Heng, Sao Chanthol, Long Kim Leang, Cheas Om, Noi Chreuk, and deported him to imprison in Vietnam with the accusation of undermining the relationship Vietnam and Cambodia.

Currently, Tim Sakhorn had been granted asylum to living in Sweden because of the tireless support of our Khmer and Khmer-Krom around the world, NGOs, and UN agencies.

Secondly, on February 8, 2007, five former Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who were defrocked injustice in Khleang (Soc Trang) province by the Vietnamese government and imprisoned from 2 to 4 years: Ly Suong, Ly Hoang, Kim Muon, Danh Tol, Thach Thuong, after participating in a peaceful demonstration to demand religious rights.

Currently, they had been granted asylum to living in Sweden and Holland because of the tireless support of our Khmer and Khmer-Krom around the world, NGOs, and UN agencies.
Thirdly, Mr. Son Sa Vang, former President of the Friendship Kampuchea-Krom Association in Kari Vong district, Takeo province, and his family had also been granted asylum to living in Sweden. Mr. Son Sa Vang was accused of protecting Khmer-Krom from escaping of the oppression by the Vietnamese government.

The results of the above people's resettlements to living in the freedom and democracy countries show that:

1. The injustice actions must be failed.
2. Your devotion, support, and struggle to fight for the justice for our nation will win.
3. The Unification among our Khmer will bring victory.

As mentioned above, KKF and the victims of the Human Rights abuses would like to thank from the bottom of our heart for your support in our peaceful non-violent movement to seek justice for our unfortunate Khmer-Krom in Kampuchea-Krom. We would like to wish you and your family with full of joyfulness, happiness, healthiness, and prosperities.

Respectfully Yours,

Thach Ngoc Thach
President of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation

Typhoon Ketsana kills 11 in Cambodia: official

30 Sept, 2009
AFP

PHNOM PENH — Typhoon Ketsana has killed at least 11 people in northeastern and central Cambodia, police and government officials said Wednesday.

Nine were killed and 28 injured in central Cambodia while two died in the northeast overnight as the country was battered by the storm, officials said.

"At least nine people were crushed last night when their house fell down," said Chea Cheat, chief of the Red Cross office in central Kampong Thom province.

Chea Cheat added that at least 78 houses in his province were destroyed Tuesday evening and that heavy rain and rising floods were continuing.

International organisations and government officials in Cambodia said they were distributing tents and food to affected people while assessing damage across at least five of the country's provinces.

The death toll from Ketsana in Vietnam has risen to at least 38, officials said, after 246 died when the storm struck the Philippines over the weekend.

An official from the flood and storm control committee in the central Vietnam city of Danang said another 10 people were missing.

Toll from Typhoon Ketsana rises to 38 in Vietnam: official

30/09/2009

People are seen transporting a motorcycle by using a boat down a flooded street as Typhoon Ketsana passed through the central Vietnamese city of Hue on September 29.(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

The death toll from Typhoon Ketsana in Vietnam rose to at least 38 on Wednesday, officials said, after 246 died when the storm struck the Philippines over the weekend.

An official from the flood and storm control committee in the central Vietnam city of Danang said another 10 people were missing.

Central Vietnam bore the brunt of the typhoon's impact. At least 13 people died in Kon Tum, a mountainous inland province, officials said.

"We continue to collect provincial reports to know the exact number of victims," said the official who asked not to be named.

After making landfall early afternoon on Tuesday, the typhoon weakened during the night to become a tropical depression which had reached the border of neighbouring Laos, an official from the national storm centre in Hanoi told AFP.

In Cambodia, police and government officials said Wednesday that Ketsana had killed at least 11 people.

Vietnam suffers annually from tropical storms and typhoons. At least 41 people died in September 2008 when Typhoon Hagupit struck the country's north.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lao praised for ratifying UN key human rights treaties

By The Nation
29/09/2009

The United Nations on Tuesday praises Laos for ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
By doing so, Laos pledges to work against all forms of discrimination and promote equality before the law. The ratification also commits Laos to the promotion of "individual freedom of belief, speech, association, freedom of press, right to hold assembly and the right to political participation as well as to fight against corruption through prevention, criminalisation, international cooperation and asset recovery."

"By ratifying these treaties, Lao PDR further emphasizes its commitment to - among other actions - enact laws and other measures to improve the lives of those living with disabilities such as victims of cluster munitions, and to protect an individual's physical integrity (against e.g. torture and arbitrary arrest), explained the Office of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Lao PDR and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in South East Asia," said the UN in a press statement. "This is a significant moment in the evolution of the country's commitment with the promotion and protection of human rights and the UN Country team stands ready to support the Government in the realisation of these conventions," said Serge Verniau, UN Resident Coordinator in Laos.

"These ratifications herald a momentous step by the Lao PDR in its integration into the international legal framework."

Homayoun Alizadeh, Regional Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the next step for Laos is to move towards implementation and translate the provision of these conventions into national laws.

With the ratification of ICCPR and CPRD, Laos is now a state party to six out of the nine existing core UN human rights treaties.In South East Asia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam, and now Lao PDR, have ratified the ICCPR. Philippines and Thailand are the only other countries together with Lao now in the region having ratified the CRPD.

Vietnam attends seminar on energy development in Greater Mekong Sub-region

Representatives from the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) nations gathered at a seminar on energy development, which opened in Phnompenh, Cambodia, on September 29.

The event attracted leaders from the world’s leading energy groups such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, GE Energy and officers from embassies in Phnompenh.

The seminar was also attended by Dinh Quang Tri, Deputy general director of Electricity of Vietnam, representatives from the Department of Energy and Petroleum under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin).

During the first day of the seminar, participants discussed the energy policies of each GMS member nation and energy exchanges in the context of the expansion of the GMS market.

On the seminar’s second day, participants will discuss issues related to human resources development, marketing, e-governance and the setting up of a business network to boost cooperation among GMS countries in energy, transportation, telecoms, tourism and the environment.

The GMS nations include Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China and Myanmar.

Thai former PM, FM found to have violated law during listing of Preah Vihear with UNESCO

BANGKOK, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) voted 6:3 to find former prime minister Samak Sundaravej and former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama to have violated Article 157 of the Criminal Code for abuse of authority during the UNESCO-listing process of Preah Vihear temple.

The NACC found the two had violated the law since the then cabinet passed a resolution for Noppadon to sign the Thai-Cambodian communique to support the listing of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), without the Thai parliament approval, Thai News Agency reported.

As Noppadon was the Thai foreign minister in the Samak-led Administration, on July 18 last year, he signed the joint communique with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An for the UNESCO listing of Preah Vihear temple.

The UNESCO, in July 2008, approved Cambodia's bid to list Preah Vihear Temple as the World Heritage Site, since then the temple and its adjacent area have become the sites of border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand.

Editor: Fang Yang

Thailand's PM criticises Cambodia's shooting order

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has criticised his Cambodian counterpart for saying Thai trespassers will be shot if they go near a disputed temple on the border.

Earlier Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said he had ordered his troops to shoot anyone from neighbouring Thailand who crosses onto land around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple."If they enter again, they will be shot," Hun Sen told officials.

"Troops, police and all armed forces must adhere to the order ... for invaders, shields are not used but bullets are used," the PM said in the speech at the opening ceremony for Cambodia's new Ministry of Tourism building.Hun Sen's comments came a little over a week after Thai protesters rallied near the ancient temple, the site of clashes that have killed seven soldiers since tensions flared last year.Mr Abhisit says Hun Sen wants to retaliate for the Thai protests on September the 19th.

He says Thailand still wants to find a peaceful solution to the dispute over the temple through a joint border commission set up by the two countries.

Claims attackedHun Sen has also lambasted Thailand's claim to the disputed land around the temple, inviting it to raise the issue at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting next month.

Cambodia and Thailand have been arguing over the land around the temple for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July when the temple was granted United Nations World Heritage status.

Hostility between Thai police seniors over border crossing to casinos

by Usa Pichai
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 20:09

Bangkok (Mizzima) - A casino in the Golden Triangle near the Thailand-Burma border has become the centre of conflict among high level Thai police officers after the former Deputy Metro Police Chief was arrested by the local police in Chiang Rai province.

Pol. Lt. Col. Santhana Prayoonrat, former Deputy Metro Police, 2nd Department sued Pol. Col. Sutham Chartarsa, Chiang Saen district Police Chief in the Chiang Rai district court on Tuesday for maltreatment. Santhana, has claimed that he was on duty to investigate a case where the local police in Chiang Saen allowed gamblers to cross the border to the casino in the Golden Triangle 24 hours which is illegal, according to Thai law.

Pol. Lt.Col. Santhana was arrested together with eight people in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai province by the local police. They were accused of illegally carrying guns and bullets in public.He said the local police in Chiang Saen threatened him, hit him on the chest and tried to choke him. The group was detained for a night and released on bail the next day. The court has accepted the case.

Santhana claimed that local police officials were suspicious when they were investigating the case. They had allowed gamblers to cross on all days. They were afraid the result of the investigation would be reported to senior officials in Bangkok.

“Besides, all my guns are licensed but the local police over reacted,” he said.Local police arrested the group on September 13 and claimed that they threatened a staff of a casino in Burma.

Earlier, Pol. Col. Sutham revealed that the local police had reported that Santhana’s group was into ‘mafia-like’ behaviour in the area. They threatened and extorted money from gamblers who crossed the border to the casinos several times, according to a report in INNNews website.

In addition, he resisted arrest and was found in possession of many weapons. In Thailand, casinos are not allowed to operate legally, but there are a number of casinos near the border with neighbouring countries like Cambodia and Burma, which normally are linked to powerful people or politicians.

In the northern border of Chiang Rai province and Burma alone there are at least five major casinos in Thachilek Township and the Golden Triangle area.However, Thai law allows border crossing to the casinos only during official hours. But some people cross illegally or bribe local officials to allow them to cross.

Health & Education In Cambodia

Posted at: VOA News

This month, the United States and Cambodia signed amendments to 2 bilateral agreements that will provide $34.8 million in 2009 funding to support Cambodian priorities in health and education. U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Carol Rodley presided over the September 8th signing ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Phnom Penh.

Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Flynn Fuller, United States Agency for International Development [USAID] Mission Director, signed on behalf of their respective governments.

"I am pleased to be here to reaffirm the commitment of the American people to investing in the health and education of the Cambodian people," Ambassador Rodley said."By working side by side with our colleagues in the Cambodian government, we've helped stem the tide of HIV/AIDS, improve the quality of basic health services, and enhance the relevance and availability of education for thousands of youth."

The amendment to the first agreement consists of $31.6 million in grant funds to achieve health objectives.

Funds will be used to promote a variety of activities to reduce the transmission and impact of HIV/AIDS; to prevent and control major infectious diseases such as tuberculosis; to fight avian influenza and other influenza-like illnesses; to improve maternal, reproductive, and children's health; and to strengthen Cambodian public-health systems.

The amendment to the second agreement will provide $3.2 million in grant funds to support the Cambodian government's education objectives. These funds will support the launch of a new program that will build on USAID's ongoing education program, which is improving the quality and relevance of basic education and increasing access to schooling for all children, including minorities, people with disabilities, and the very poor.

Activities will also focus on reducing school dropout and repetition rates through improvements in teaching quality, school-management training, and measuring student academic achievement.

The total amount of direct, bilateral assistance through all foreign assistance accounts is $65.1 million in fiscal year 2009; of which USAID assistance accounts for $59.9 million. The United States is committed to working with the government of Cambodia to help provide better education and health care to the Cambodian people.

Vietnam’s NA delegation visits Cambodia

29/09/2009

A delegation from the Vietnam National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children is on a working visit to Cambodia.

The delegation, headed by the committee’s Chairman Dao Trong Thi, paid courtesy visits to Cambodia’s Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin on September 28.

At the meetings, the Cambodian legislative leaders welcomed the delegation’s visit, saying that it would help strengthen the traditional ties of friendship between the two countries.

The visit would also provide a good chance for the two countries’ legislative bodies to boost the exchange of experiences, they added.

The Vietnamese NA delegation met with Mom Chimhuy, Chairman of the Cambodian NA’s Commission on Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Tourism.

The two sides compared notes on a number of laws and policies on culture and education.
Chairman Dao Trong Thi also had a working session with Ho Naun, Chairwoman of the Cambodian NA’s Commission on Health, Social Affairs, Veterans, Youth Rehabilitation, Vocational Training and Women’s Affairs.

The Vietnamese delegation is scheduled to visit the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and meet with Nath Burnoeun, Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Education Youth and Sport on Sept. 29.

Party leader welcomes delegations to VFF Congress

29/09/2009

Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh received delegations from Laos, China, Cambodia and Cuba, who are in Vietnam to attend the 7th National Congress of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) on September 28.

Prominent among the guests were Sisavat Keobunphan, Chairman of the Lao Front for National Construction; Zhang Rong-ming, Vice Chairwoman of the National Committee of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference; Min Khin, Vice President and General Secretary of the National Council of the Solidarity Front for Development of the Cambodian Motherland and Robin Rodriguez from the Cuban Committee in the Defence of the Revolution.

While welcoming the international guests’ participation in the 7th VFF Congress, General Secretary Manh emphasised the VFF’s role in gathering and encouraging people to successfully implement the national renewal process, so that Vietnam will be able to shed “underdeveloped nation” status before 2010 and become an industrial country by the end of the next decade. He said he was pleased with the growing ties between the VFF and its foreign counterparts through their exchange of delegations and the signing of numerous cooperation agreements.

For their part, the foreign guests said that they were honoured to attend the 7th VFF Congress and affirmed their determination to strengthen solidarity with the Vietnamese people. VOVNews/VN

International friends applauds Fatherland Front congress

29/09/2009

Officials from Laos, China, Cuba and Cambodia have shared joy, warm sentiments and durable friendship with their Vietnamese counterparts while attending the seventh National VFF Congress.

At the congress of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF), which opened in Hanoi on Sept. 28, a delegation from the Lao Front for National Construction, headed by its Chairman Sisavath Keobounphanh, hailed the VFF’s recent major changes and its achievements, particularly in uniting the entire people and calling for support from social organisations and overseas Vietnamese.

The VFF has taken an active part and obtained encouraging results in the country’s hunger elimination and poverty reduction programmes, said the Lao officials.

In terms of people-to-people diplomacy, the VFF has gained backing and cooperation from similar fronts in friendly nations and social organisations in the region and the world.

On this occasion, the Lao Party, State and Front presented a Gold Order, Laos’ highest order, on the VFF in recognition of its exceptional record of achievement.

Whilst addressing the event, Vice Chairwoman of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee Zhang Rongming said the VFF is a united front organisation that has upheld its critical role in Vietnam’s political life.

Zhang said China and Vietnam have enjoyed a time-honoured friendship which was built by the two countries’ Parties, States and peoples during their long-term revolutionary struggles.

With the concerted efforts of generations, the China-Vietnam traditional friendship, founded and nurtured by President Mao Zedong and President Ho Chi Minh, entered a new stage of comprehensive friendly cooperation, she said.

Senior leaders from the two Parties and States have held regular meetings and visits. Also, friendly exchanges and cooperative ties for mutual benefit in various areas have seen rapid development, the Chinese official elaborated.

Officials from the Committee for the Defence of the Cuban Revolution said the VFF’s 7th congress constituted a milestone in gathering together all patriotic forces, with the aim of uniting the entire people and firmly protecting national independence and unification as well as striving for the target of a rich people, a strong country and an equitable, democratic and civilised society.

Min Khin, Vice President and General Secretary of the National Council of the Solidarity Front for the Development of the Cambodian Motherland, said his delegation expected to learn from the VFF’s experiences in mass mobilisation.

He expressed his admiration for and congratulated Vietnam on the rapid development the country has achieved in all spheres during its national construction process.
VOVNews/VNA

Thailand: Coup anniversay reveals its two faces

Written by Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Source: Green Left Weekly

On September 19, the third anniversary of the military coup that wrecked Thai democracy, two demonstrations took place.

They sum up the two faces of Thailand. One demonstration, by tens of thousands of “Red Shirts” in Bangkok, was organised in order to continue the demand for full democracy. It was a peaceful and friendly demonstration.

Yet the military-backed Democrat Party government, headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva, declared a state of emergency and lined up thousands of police and soldiers to deal with the demonstrators.

Previously, in April, Abhisit had urged soldiers to fire on the Red Shirts.

Two people were subsequently killed and 70 injured by government soldiers. The other demonstration was organised by fascist thugs of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

The PAD are the “Yellow Shirt” royalists. The aim of this demonstration was to attack Cambodian villagers living and working at the ancient Kao Prawiharn [Preah Vihear] temple inside Cambodia.

Since last year, the PAD have been trying to cause a war with Cambodia by whipping up extreme nationalism. The temple was built by the ancient Khmers and clearly belongs to Cambodia, both from a legal and historical point of view.

On September 19, PAD supporters went to the border armed, as usual, with guns, bombs and clubs. They attacked police and then attacked a group of local villagers who were opposed to them.

Local villagers on both sides of the border have traditionally held joint religious ceremonies at the temple on this day.

This has not happened since the PAD forced the closure of the temple last year. Abhisit’s personal spokesperson, Teptai Senpong said there was no reason to declare a state of emergency in the border area “as the PAD were defending Thai national interests”.

The Thai foreign minister is a PAD supporter who took part in the illegal occupation of the international airports last December. He is famed for being rude about the Cambodian government.

Naturally, the PAD riot and its extreme nationalism was supported by pro-government TV station ASTV. The government will not prosecute the PAD and its leaders for their illegal violence. They never have. At the same time, numerous Red Shirts are in jail or face prosecution.

Just like when the PAD took over the airports, it cares little for the impact on local people’s employment and livelihoods. It cares little if the sons of poor farmers, conscripted into the Thai army, die in a pointless shoot-out with their brothers in the Cambodian army. The progressive, peaceful and democratic face of Thai society is the Red Shirts.

The violent, fascist and authoritarian face is the Yellow Shirt conservative royalists who control the state, the army, the monarchy, the government and the media. The one thing they do not control is the hearts and minds of most Thai citizens.

Most Thais are waiting for the king to die. But that in itself will solve nothing, despite the fact that his son is universally hated and held in contempt.

No real democracy can be built without dismissing the generals, the judges, the Privy Council, the royal family and the corrupt politicians.

Will the Red Shirts be up to this people’s revolution? Can it be an overwhelming movement of citizens in order to minimise bloodshed? These are the issues on many Thai people’s minds today.

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn worked in the faculty of political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He was forced to leave Thailand after being charged under Thailand’s anti-democratic les majeste (insulting the monarch) laws. He is an activist with the socialist Turn Left Thailand group. Visit PCPthai.org and /Wdpress.blog.co.uk.]

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cambodia confirms first death of A/H1N1 flu

Source: Xinhua

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday announced the country's first death case of flu A/H1N1.

The dead patient, a 40-year-old Khmer woman, died on Sunday at Phnom Penh's Calmette Hospital, said the premier at the inauguration ceremony of Tourism Ministry building.

So far, the number of the confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases in Cambodia has risen to 88, according to officials of the Ministry of Health on Monday.

HCM City celebrates India’s Hindu Durgotsav festival in traditional style

28-09-2009

HCM City — India’s Durgotsav festival, which wraps up today, aims to provide a glimpse of Indian traditional art and culture, as well as bring the Indian diaspora closer together with locals.
According to the Hindu calendar, the dates of the festival coincided with the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th day of Durgotsav. Like in previous years, the organisers at Ashoka II in An Phu have flown in an idol and priest from Kolkata, India, in order to ensure the authenticity of the ceremonies. Nearly 100 people have been visiting the venue in the past few days in order to enjoy the festivities of the event.

Durgotsav is an annual Hindu festival which celebrates the worship of the Hindu goddess of power, Durga or Shakti. It is a nine-day affair, in which the last six days are observed with a host of complex rituals and intricate ceremonies. It is extensively celebrated in the Northern and Eastern states of India though other states also enthusiastically participate in the festival.

The Durgotsav festival has been primarily organised by the leading members of the Indian community living in HCM City. The funds for the event were raised through personal contributions from the community and with the generous support from leading members of the local corporate community.

A large number of people gather everyday at the venue starting at 7am for prayer, which is followed by a community lunch. The evenings are usually full of entertaining programmes put on by the members of the local Indian community.

"When I reach the venue, it feels like a dream in which I have transferred to the streets of Kolkata from HCM City. I sense the same spirit and buzz of excitement as one feels back in India during these times," said Rajib Gupta, a prominent member of the Indian community.
This year, in addition to the Indian community in Viet Nam, people have travelled from Cambodia and Philippines to attend the event in HCM City.

Cultural programme

In the true tradition of the Durgotsav in India, the organisers have been sponsoring shows and performances about Indian culture, dance and music. For the past two years, renowned dancers and musicians have performed in HCM City for the festival. This year a leading Indian troupe came to Viet Nam to entertain about 500 guests with a performance of Chhau, a form of Indian folk dance. The evening was attended in large numbers by members of the diplomatic corps, as well as by members from both the Indian and Vietnamese community. — VNS

Vietnam - Front president meets Chinese delegation

28/09/2009

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Huynh Dam received a delegation of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Hanoi on Sept. 25.

The CPPCC delegation, headed by CPPCC Vice Chairwoman Zhang Rong-ming, is on a friendly visit to Vietnam to attend the 7 th Congress of the VFF.

VFF President Dam described the visit as a vivid manifestation of solidarity and friendship between the two parties, states, mass organisations and people of the two countries. He congratulated the Chinese people’s achievements over the past 60 years, which are attributable to great contributions by the CPPCC.

Dam affirmed that the VFF and the Vietnamese people always keep in mind valuable support and assistance from the Chinese Party, State and people to Vietnam in the past national liberation, as well as in the current national construction and development.

He expressed his belief that the VFF and the CPPCC would effectively boost cooperation to mobilise people to maintain and develop the tradition of solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

view original source

Human rights group fights to reduce poverty

By:Devin Creer
Published On:Monday, September 28, 2009
Mines, like this one in a Phoenix residential community, often interfere with sacred cultural lands of indigenous people who do not benefit from the wealth of these operations, according to Oxfam America.(Devin Creer The State Press)

Oxfam Club at ASU is calling on students to push its “Right to Know, Right to Decide” campaign and join the fight to reduce world poverty levels.

Around the globe, thousands of people in poor countries lose their land to oil, gas and mining companies and often don’t benefit from the profits these companies make, according to the Oxfam America Web site.

Oxfam is an international human-rights activist group, with a student chapter at ASU. The 15-member Oxfam Club at ASU is scheduled to host two guest speakers on the issue Tuesday night.
Nonprofit management sophomore Regina Duran, president of the club, got involved with Oxfam America after participating in its CHANGE initiative, a national program that trains college students to become effective global leaders.

“I decided to start the club because there was nothing like it here in Arizona, let alone at ASU,” Duran said.

A bill in Congress called the Energy Securities through Transparency Act would require oil, mining and gas companies to publicly disclose payments made to foreign governments.

Sarah Pray, the U.S. coordinator of Publish What You Pay, an organization pushing awareness for the transparency act, said she’s feeling positive about the outlook for the bill this year.

“In the U.S., we’ve been working really hard for the past five years to get this type of bill passed,” she said.

If passed, the bill would allow people to have a voice in how the money is used and give citizens the opportunity to hold the government accountable, according to the Oxfam America Web site.
Both guest speakers, Sadia Hameed, lead organizer of Extractive Industries for Oxfam America, and Solinn Lim, program coordinator for Oxfam’s East Asia region in Cambodia, will discuss the importance of the bill and its effect on human rights.

The money that the companies make needs to benefit the alleviation of poverty or other similar uses, Pray said.

“If we want to make sure that people living around the world see the benefits from the sale of their precious natural resources, then we need to get some transparency,” she said.

Oxfam America and six other organizations concerned with reform in the oil, gas and mining industries joined together at an international conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to discuss the way contracts between companies and governments are regulated.

The Energy Securities through Transparency Act was introduced to Congress on the same day by five U.S. senators.

Sustainability sophomore and secretary of the Oxfam Club at ASU Kati Long said this issue affects all people even if they don’t realize it.

“Things we do every day involves gas or oil, and none of us know the fact that 20 percent of our oil comes from places where people don’t get anything for what they’re working for,” she said.
After the guest speaker session, future Oxfam Club at ASU events will include a poetry slam and possibly a hunger banquet, which illustrates global hunger.

Duran said by increasing knowledge about these issues, students at ASU could help make a difference worldwide.

“We’re seen as global leaders and that’s what [President Michael] Crow wants us to be,” said Duran. “This is a great opportunity for everyone at ASU to represent and make an impact globally.”
Reach the reporter at devin.creer@asu.edu.

Borders that still dictate the nation and the world

28/09/2009

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the world was faced with a new meaning of borders. Arguably, the fall of the Berlin Wall appeared to tell us that borders were no longer required.

For the first time, the expression “borderless world” was used. It was also supported by similar ideas such as globalization, free trade, etc.

Our world seems to be borderless, where the exchange of goods and services is much easier than before. Does it mean that borders are no longer important?

On the other hand, tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia often build up due to border issues. The infamous Ambalat case is a good example of this. The pending of maritime boundaries off Sulawesi is, among other reasons, why the case emerged.

Similarly, disputes between Thailand and Cambodia in relation to the ancient Preah Vihear Temple located in their border area have been in the news for quite a while. It seems that negotiations between the two neighbors have not worked out very well.

In Europe, Croatia’s bid to join the European Union had been continuously blocked by Slovenia, also because of a border dispute (New York Times, July 27, 2009). Slovenia was not happy with having Croatia on board, because the two neighbors had yet to settle their land and maritime boundaries.

Only after the two neighbors reached an agreement concerning their maritime boundary, did Slovenia withdraw its objection (Croatian Times, Sept. 11, 2009).

While it is true that in some ways borders have lost some of their traditional functions, it is worth noting that borders remain relevant. Arguably, the expression “borderless world” does not seem to be fully grounded.

Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, borders are still an important issue and arguably their relevance seems to be increasing, to an extent. Moreover, borders still dictate and can be a source of tension in the relations of mankind.

In a smaller scope, border disputes do happen. Dispute over the ownership of Mount Kelud, between the regencies of Kediri and Blitar in East Java, colored our newspapers at the end of 2008. Similarly, in August 2009, tension built between the regencies of Bantul and Sleman in Yogyakarta (kompas.com, Aug. 25, 2009).

The two neighbors each claimed to be the rightful owner of Tambakbayan and Tambakkraman villages located in their border area. At the time of writing, the case has yet to be solved.

When international issues, such as Ambalat, were building, some opined that territorial disputes between districts should not be regarded as a big deal.

Some added that Indonesia should focus on the international case and be more prepared to face Malaysia, and not be trapped in a petty domestic dispute.

The above opinion might be sufficiently grounded, but it does not mean that district/regional borders can be ignored. In a different geographical scope, regional borders are indeed very important.

In the autonomous era for Indonesia, the general allocation fund (DAU), for instance, is distributed by considering the area/size of regions.

How are we going to define an accurate area without properly settled borders? This might be the reason why Sleman and Bantul are very serious about dealing with their border dispute.
The matter of regional boundaries in Indonesia is governed by Law No. 32/2004 on Regional Governments.

Technical guidelines on regional boundary settlement have also been issued by the Home Ministry through Regulation No. 1/2006.

This regulation consists of detailed procedures on boundary delimitation (on maps) and boundary demarcation (in the field) for both land and maritime boundaries.

Technically, boundary delimitation and demarcation involve surveys and mapping. Two points to be taken into account are the types of boundaries to be used (natural of artificial) and the technology/equipment in relation to precision and accuracy requirements. In addition, social aspects cannot be ignored, crucially the participation of the community residing in the border area.

Border definition is in fact multidimensional. In an area where dispute over ownership is yet to be settled, one cannot just come, survey and map the border. Disputes need to be resolved beforehand.

In this case, legal and historical aspects do matter, as well as social, political and economic aspects.

At the end, borders should ideally provide us with safety and security, which in turn contribute to people’s prosperity.

Accordingly, border issues cannot be merely the domain of one discipline. It is a multidisciplinary issue.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when people were first were introduced to the expression “borderless world”, the world is still struggling with border disputes. Even though interaction among people around the world is much easier these days, borders possess no less importance. We are now witnessing the re-emergence of the significance of borders.

Borders are important, not to exclude one from others, but to build respect for one’s right and obligations in relation to territory and jurisdiction. In addition to government and the private sector, this issue should be a domain where academics play an important and positive role.

Multidisciplinary studies on borders, which are not dictated by borders among disciplines, are important.

The writer is a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University’s Department of Geodetic Engineering. He is currently an Australian Leadership Award scholar (PhD candidate) at the University of Wollongong, This views expressed are his own.

Capreol woman raising money for Cambodian school

Posted By Harold Carmichael, The Sudbury Star
28/09/2009

A Greater Sudbury woman will hold a pair of events in early October to help raise funds for a school for children, including many orphans, in a small Cambodian village.

Tammy Durand will first hold a licenced dance entitled Crank it Up in Cape-Town in the Capreol Arena upstairs hall on Saturday, Oct. 3. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
“I have 150 (tickets) sold so far,” said the Capreol native. “It’s going to be good. It can hold a maximum 275 people.”

Advance tickets can be purchased at the Northern Credit Union Capreol branch, Joan’s Variety and Ace Hardware.

On Monday, Oct. 5, Durand plans to bicycle to Toronto via North Bay, taking Highway 11 and many back roads, to both collect money for and raise awareness about her campaign.

“I’m going to take four nights to do it,” she said. “My rationale is the promotion of this. It’s a 509-kilometre trip. Children would walk that in 40 days if there was a food bank at the other end. Awareness is a big thing, too. I’ve had 31 years of living in a bubble.”

The proceeds from the fundraisers will go to Durand’s “ABCs and Rice Campaign” in aid of the Supporting the Orphans and Indigent People of Cambodia for Development (SOID).

Durand met the man behind SOID, a former monk named Sok Vana, while visiting Cambodia as part of a tourist group in June. She was taking a much-needed vacation after 10 years of working in the transportation field.

SOID runs an orphanage, as well as a free school for the impoverished children of Veal, a small village near Siem Reap, a city located northwest of the capital of Phnom Penh.

Read the full story in Monday's Star, or online at 9 a.m.

Vietnam, Cambodia open three more border gates

28/09/2009

Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to open three more border gates in late September and early October to meet the increasing demand for transportation of passengers and goods between the two sides.

The pairs of border gates are in Xa Mat of Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province and Trapeang Phlong of Cambodia’s Kompong Cham province, Tinh Bien of Vietnam’s An Giang province and Phnom Den of Cambodia’s Takeo province, and Ha Tien of Vietnam’s An Giang province and Lork Kam Pot of Cambodia’s Campot province.

With the three new border gates, the two countries will have a total of five border gates for automobiles to pass through under the bilateral agreement on transport signed in 2005.

VNA/VOVNews

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How do other nations run a health system?

27/09/2009
By Andrea Berggren
Special to The Denver Post

With the ongoing health care reform debate going full bore in recent weeks, it seems obvious that many people, while wishing for a better system, are also nervous about changing the current one. Perhaps these people see no need for an overhaul of the system. A more likely scenario, however, is that the average American isn't aware of the United States' place in the world in terms of health care.

Enter T.R. Reid's "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care," which manages to present a dizzying array of pertinent facts and figures while also tempering the coldness of those numbers with personal experiences and thoughtful insights.

Reid wastes no time in the prologue, titled "A Moral Question," where he reports that all of the seven countries he researched for the book "concluded that everybody has a right to health care" while pointing out that these same countries, comparable to the U.S. financially, enjoy better national health statistics and also spend "far less" on health care than does the American system.

The statistics are sobering. Reid's extensively footnoted facts include that the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world (6.8 infant deaths per 1,000 births); that 700,000 Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical bills; and that the U.S., with more than 45 million uninsured at any given time, ranks high in the list of wealthy countries whose citizens must pay out-of-pocket to receive medical care. (Impoverished countries such as Cambodia and India are at the top of the list, with 91 percent and 85 percent, respectively).

Reid, a former correspondent for The Washington Post and former chief of its London and Tokyo bureaus, has done his homework plus extra credit during his travels for this book, visiting France, Germany, Japan, Britain, Canada, Taiwan and Switzerland and investigating their health care systems from the inside out.

His basic premise seems to be that no social changes can be made to an existing society without borrowing ideas from others. "The Healing of America" is dedicated to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, as Reid points out, created the vast American highway system by imitating Nazi Germany's Autobahn.

In the book's second chapter, Reid provides an industry tutorial on the four prevalent models of health care in use around the world — the Bismarck Model, the Beveridge Model, the National Health Insurance Model and the Out-of-Pocket Model — and explains origins of each model while matching them with a current working system.

Only the United States seems to provide either none, or all four, of the models to its citizens, and Reid makes it clear that this isn't working so well. "All of the other countries have settled on one model for everybody, on the theory that this is simpler, cheaper and fairer," he writes. "With its fragmented array of providers and payers and overlapping systems, the U.S. health care system doesn't fit any of the recognized models."

What is perhaps most striking about this book is not simply that Reid comes to the debate prepared with numbers, but that he has tried each system personally, taking his "bum shoulder" first to his general practitioner in the U.S. and then to specialists, family doctors and even spiritual healers in India to suss out the pros and cons of each system.

From a full shoulder-replacement operation recommendation in the U.S. (cost unknown, dependant on which insurance plan he has) to discussions of similar and alternative therapies in France, to the realization that non-acute cases in Canada can be made to wait as long as 18 months for surgery, Reid spares no details.

Some countries don't come off as well as one might expect, such as Britain, which apparently holds to a gatekeeper policy. Reid attempted to request from his London doctor the full shoulder-replacement surgery and was told that as he has no chronic pain, the doctor could not refer him to a specialist and that a specialist would be turned down for such an operation as the government would not find it medically necessary.

This is similar to the HMOs in the U.S., which act as gatekeepers for coverage. The difference is that if one had the money to pay out-of-pocket in the U.S., one could get the surgery. The moral question Reid raises is: Is that a fair system? Should the rich enjoy the best health care while the poor go without any?

Americans seem divided on this issue. Unlike Switzerland or Taiwan, both of which switched to universal health care within the past two decades, and both of which had trouble persuading their populations to make a switch, the crux of the problem in the U.S. seems to be that Americans are still unsure that health care is a right: "In the rest of the world, this is considered unbelievably cruel," Reid writes. " 'Excuse me, Mr. Reid, but I don't understand your approach to health care,' a junior minister in Sweden's health department said to me. 'It seems to me that your country takes away the insurance when people most need it.' "

Reid assumes a friendly tone as he dispels the notion that a universal health care plan would be engaging in "socialism" by pointing out two basic flaws in that argument. "Many foreign countries provide universal health care of high quality, at reasonable cost using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans," he writes. He also points out that both the Veterans Administration and Medicare enjoy enormous popularity among Americans.

Reid believes that the U.S. is opposed to any foreign health care system concepts because it is considered unpatriotic.

"The real patriot," argues Reid, "the person who genuinely loves his country, or college or company, is the person who recognizes its problems and tries to fix them."

Andrea Berggren is a Denver-based freelance writer and former Denver Post staffer.

Lure of rich pickings in Malaysia

Sun, Sep 27, 2009
The New Straits Times
By Shanti Gunaratnam

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Most of the "human trafficking" cases investigated by the police in Malaysia turned out to be people who made their way here, voluntarily, to work.

The women were here largely to work in the sex trade, claimed Assistant Commissioner Sanusi Sidek, the Federal Criminal Investigation Department assistant director attached to the D7 unit.

Human trafficking, vice, gambling and secret societies come under this unit.

Sanusi told the New Sunday Times that two thirds of the 333 women and men investigated so far this year, came to Malaysia on their own accord. They were not forced, coerced or tricked by unscrupulous groups, he added.

The situation, Sanusi said, was not as bad as had been made out by various parties.
Local and international organisations have long reported on the widespread problem of men, women and children being sold into forced labour, debt bondage, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.

"The women owned up that they were able to earn more money in Malaysia as sex workers than in their own countries. As for the 55 men who were picked up, only three were trafficked here."
He said many foreign women employed in the sex trade "cried wolf" to get away from the clutches of the syndicates they worked for.

Some, he added, made up stories of being trafficked into Malaysia by syndicates when they were picked up in police raids.

"They basically just wanted to go home after having made their money serving in brothels here."
Sanusi said women in the sex trade were required to pay between RM30,000 (S$12,240) and RM40,000 each to syndicates for their air tickets, social visit passes/visas and accommodation in Malaysia.

The syndicates would bear the travelling and accommodation costs initially, with the women reimbursing the money after working in brothels.

"In many cases, the women were able to earn between RM2,500 and RM3,000 a night serving at least 10 clients. The money would be taken by the syndicates as reimbursement.

"Many of the women were able to service their debts in one or two months but trouble started when the syndicates kept on demanding money from them.

"Feeling played out and cheated, the women would seek the assistance of non-governmental organisations and the embassies of their respective countries. They never told the truth and would report that they were trafficked into Malaysia."

Under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007, anyone who is deemed a victim of human trafficking will be given immunity from immigration laws.

"By lying about how they came into the country, these women got free tickets home from their embassies."

Sanusi said, according to police statistics, only 93 women and men had been trafficked into Malaysia so far this year.

Almost all these women who were rescued in raids after tip-offs were found to have been forced into prostitution while the men were on transit to other countries.

The women trafficked into Malaysia were from Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, with a small number from China and India.

The men were from Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

"What is shocking is that these women were not smuggled in. Many were brought in by syndicates and they had valid travel documents with the Kuala Lumpur International Airport being the main entry point.

"They came in with tourist visas and overstayed in Malaysia."

The police have to date taken 19 traffickers to court and charged them. One had been sentenced to eight years' jail while three others had been given sentences of five months' jail each.

The Attorney-General's Chambers is appealing the cases as it wants them to serve a longer time behind bars.

Four had claimed trial and the others are waiting for their cases to be called up.
"We have also identified the syndicates who have made Malaysia a human-trafficking destination and transit point.

"We are also keeping a close watch on one syndicate involved in taking Malaysian women to Australia to work in the flesh trade."

Currently, the D7 unit has six officers to supervise human-trafficking cases nationwide.
"The Australian federal police will be working with us because they are very concerned about a syndicate which is sending Malaysian women to work in Australia.

"They are also worried about the case of a Chinese citizen entering Australia with a valid Malaysian passport.

"The Australian police learnt that the Chinese woman was not Malaysian after questioning her," said Sanusi.

Police officers from Bukit Aman and Australia had a two-day meeting in August to discuss how both countries could put an end to human trafficking.

Cambodia to send 42 peacekeeping forces to Central African Republic and Chad: officials

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will dispatch 42 peacekeeping forces to Central African Republic and Chad under the peacekeeping mission of the United Nations, the local media said on Sunday.

"Our forces will depart for these countries in November after Prime Minister agreed to send our soldiers," DAP News quoted Nhim Savat, director general for general department of politics and international relations of Ministry of National Defense, as saying.

"And in earlier mid-2010, we will send other 80 armed forces of light engineering Unit for the two countries under the U.N. peacekeeping mission," he added.

Cambodia and the U.N. have already signed on MOU of deploying the peacekeeping armed forces in Chad and Central African Republic," he said.

"The UN side will not send their monitors to train our armed forces for this time after they have confidence in the abilities and capacities of forces training and our experiences in previous times," said Sem Sovanny, director general of the national center for peacekeeping forces management, mine clearance, unexploded ordnance waste of post war.

"Five senior military officials from National Defense Ministry will also accompany our Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) to these countries," Sem said.

Cambodia is used to take part in joint military exercises in several countries, such as Indonesia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, and also Sudan's de-mining activities under the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Cambodia will also host the military exercise which is to be supported by the United States under a program titled "Global Peace Operations Initiative or GPOI" which will take place in June or July in 2010.

Editor: Fang Yang

SOCIAL IN BRIEF 27/9

436 students get Lawrence S. Ting scholarships

The Lawrence S. Ting Community Support Fund on September 25 handed over scholarships worth VND3.68 billion (over US$206,000) to 436 students at high schools and universities nationwide.

The scholarships are part of an aid package of VND8.74 billion which was presented on the same day by the fund and the Phu My Hung Joint Venture Company.

Apart from the scholarships, the fund granted over VND 5 billion to a series of charitable organisations in Vietnam for their operations in 2010.

On this occasion, the Cathay United Bank, through the fund, provided scholarships worth VND 600 million to pupils who have made efforts to overcome difficult conditions, in Ho Chi Minh City and the central province of Quang Nam.

The Lawrence S.Ting has now handed out over 27,000 scholarships to outstanding students, especially those facing difficulties and poverty in remote areas nationwide.

Three border gates between Vietnam and Cambodia opened to traffic

Vietnam and Cambodia will open three border gates including Vietnam’s Xamat, Tay Ninh to Cambodia’s Trapeang Phlong; Tinh Bien, An Giang to Takeo and Ha Tien, Kien Giang to Lork Kam Pot in late September and early October. Under the agreement on land transport signed between the two countries in 2005, another border gate in MocBai, Tay Ninh was opened in 2006.

Hue cooperates with Thailand in tourism development

On September 25, Thua Thien-Hue Provincial People’s Committee held a working session with a delegation from the Thai Senate, led by Tunyaratt Achariyachai, head of the Senate Committee on Tourism, and agreed to advertise images of Hue and Thailand to encourage Thai tourists to visit Hue and vice versa.

Representatives of Thua Thien-Hue Provincial People’s Committee and the Thai Senate’s delegation reached an agreement on some issues relating to tourism and development through exploiting each other’s strengths and potential.

Mrs. Tunyaratt Achariyachai appreciated Hue’s potential and strengths for developing tourism, particularly its traditional culture, nature and the hospitality of Hue’s people to attract Thai visitors.

According to Thua Thien-Hue Provincial People’s Committee’s report, the locality now has 152 restaurants and hotels with over 5,200 bedrooms.

In 2008, Hue received over 1.7 million tourists, 20 percent of whom were from Thailand.

Diabetes prevention project gets underway

The Health Ministry and the National Hospital of Endocrinology held a conference in Hanoi on September 24 at the start of a national diabetes prevention project.

The project, approved by the government in late 2008, is part of a national programme to prevent HIV/AIDS and common diseases, especially dangerous ones, until 2010.

On addressing the conference, also attended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Vietnam, the Director of the National Hospital of Endocrinology Nguyen Van Tien said that diabetes was one of the diseases in the country to have seen a large increase in the numbers of cases.

According to the health official, a survey conducted in 2008 showed that about 5.7 percent of the Vietnamese population have contracted the disease.

However, it is completely possible to prevent diabetes at community level, he said.
The project targets a number of goals, including re-training all local health officials taking part in the project, making sure that 100 percent of provincial health officials are able to recognise people at high risk, ensuring that at least 20 percent of all provincial health officials engaged in treating the disease have necessary skills and making sure that 70 percent of high-risk people have a consultation with health officials.

It also aims to step up information campaigns as well as strengthen the community level diabetes prevention network.

In August, the government provided an additional budget of over VND29 billion for the project.

‘Tourism Year’ to start next month in Hanoi

A year-long program to promote tourism in Hanoi will start next month, marking the 999th anniversary of the capital city, the Vietnam National Tourism Administration announced Friday.
Under the theme “Thang Long-Hanoi, the Millennium Convergence”, the National Tourism Year 2010 program in Hanoi will officially open on October 10 with quan ho folk singing, martial arts performances and calligraphy exhibitions.

Fifteen other major events will then be organized throughout next year, said Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the administration.

The National Tourism Year was initiated in 2003 by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Each year a locality will be selected to host the program to promote local tourism products.

Flood shelters assure villagers in central Vietnam

A community house built as a refuge center for villagers during floods opened Friday in the central city of Da Nang.

The two-story house was built to accommodate residents of Phong Nam village in Hoa Chau Commune, Hoa Vang District, during the flooding season.

The 228 square-meter house will also offer a space for organizations in the village to host community activities.

Huynh Kiem, chairman of Hoa Chau Commune People’s Committee, said the house made locals feel “safe and excited.”

Kiem said most villages in the commune were low-lying and usually hit hard by floods during heavy rains. In 2007, flooding killed one, injured seven and forced nearly 500 families in the commune to evacuate.

Phan Dien, former member of the Politburo and member of the Communist Party’s Secretariat, said at the opening ceremony on Friday that more houses like it would be built next year in the central region.

The house cost VND1.1 billion (US$61,400) to build, according to local authorities.
Meanwhile, residents of Da Nang’s Hoa Quy Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District, said they were now less afraid of the rainy season as two similar houses had been built for them last year.

Man killed by fish-feed mixer in Mekong Delta

A young man in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang was crushed to death when he fell into a fish-feed mixer Thursday.

Le Van Dang, 21, was using a spade to turn over the feed in the mixer, some 1.5-2 meters in diameter, when he fell in.

Dang was killed instantly by spinning bars that mix the food, according to local residents in Chau Phu district’s Khanh Hoa Hamlet.

The mixer was at a tra catfish farm belonging to Dang’s neighbor, Nguyen Long Hai.
Three people have been killed by falling into fish-feed mixers in the district since the beginning of this year, local newspaper Tien Phong reported.

The mixers are made by private businesses that don’t test for safety, Tuoi Tre reported.
PV

Police shuts down largest pirate factory ops in Thailand

Story By:Businessofcinema.com Team
updated on: Sep 27, 2009

MUMBAI: On 24 September, following a seven month-long investigation by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), 30 officers from the Economic and Cyber Crime Division (ECOTEC) of the Royal Thai Police, with the assistance of representatives from MPA's Thailand program raided the largest ever pirate replicating facility situated in the central Thai province of Nonthaburi seizing four DVD-replicating machines, two CD-replicating machines, three colour printers and arresting two people. It is the biggest single seizure of lines in one operation in Thailand and the second major raid for the Thai enforcement authorities this year.

The haul included 10,000 pirated DVDs as well as 100,000 artwork sleeves infringing MPA member companies' titles such as Angels & Demons, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Preliminary findings show that this major pirate syndicate has been operating for the past three years and was involved in the distribution of pirated discs across Thailand and exporting to Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Further investigations are being carried out by ECOTEC officers to determine the masterminds behind this operation. The two men aged 32 and 49 arrested are factory workers and are currently assisting the police.

The seized machines have a total capacity of producing 21 million pirated DVDs a year, generating potential illegal gains of $63 million.

"We have no tolerance for piracy. These illegal factories are clearly linked to organized crime elements in this country and we are committed to wiping these syndicates out," said Department of Intellectual Property deputy director – general Pajchima Tanasanti.

"We applaud the resolve of the Thai authorities in going after these criminal organizations and are encouraged by the shut-down of this major pirate operation. However, much more remains to be done to wipe out this problem that also adversely affects the local film industry and takes away jobs.

The key isstaying on track with sustained enforcement at all levels and keeping up the pressure to discourage these criminals. We at the MPA remain firmly behind the Government in their efforts to protect intellectual property rights in the country," said MPA president and managing director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.

This raid is the biggest after the record haul of close to 500 burners from a pirate burner lab operation in Bangkok in February this year that also resulted in five arrested.

Viettel prospers in Cambodia market

HA NOI — Viet Nam’s Military Telecom Corporation (Viettel) is now the largest telecommunications service provider in Cambodia, after launching its Metfone mobile service network in the Kingdom six months ago.

Metfone currently accounts for 60 per cent of all ADSL services and 50 per cent of the fixed phone market. It has 2 million mobile subscribers, ranking second among nine mobile service providers in Cambodia.

To facilitate the Cambodian people’s access to fundamental telecommunications services, Metfone has reduced its mobile service charges from 11 cents per minute to 9 cents per minute, and expects to adjust it down even further in the near future.

Additionally, Metfone is the sole provider of all telecommunications services in Cambodia, with its product distribution network covering even the most remote and isolated communes. It is also the sole provider of wireless fixed phone services, with nearly 20,000 subscribers in the country.

Along with business development in Cambodia, Viettel has invested US$5 million to carry out a three-year programme to introduce the internet to schools, subsidised 50 per cent of wireless fixed and mobile phone charges for poor people and sponsored an online television system, connecting the Government to localities across the country.

Metfone is expected to earn revenue of $50 million this year and provide 3G services in Cambodia early next year.

Metfone is also expected to have 2.6 million mobile subscribers and 3,000 transceiver stations covering all 24 provinces and cities of Cambodia, and the ability to provide affordable, high-quality services for customers by 2010. — VNS

Viet Nam pledges to help Lao training

26/09/2009

HA NOI — To Huy Rua, Politburo member and Secretary of the Party Central Committee, and Head of the Commission of Information and Education, has confirmed that Viet Nam is committed to helping Laos in personnel training and other development fields.

Rua made the statement while receiving Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, Director of the Lao National Academy of Politics and Public Administration (NAPPA) in Ha Noi on Thursday.

The NAPPA Director spoke of his academy’s achievements in training and stressed the development of relations between the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration and NAPPA.

Rua expressed his pleasure with the development of relations between the two parties, states and academies. The two academies co-operated in scientific studies, exchanged information, and helped each other develop programmes, curricula and teaching methods.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vietnam 'making a mockery' of rights obligations, says Human Rights Watch

sept 26, 2009
Article from: Agence France-Presse

VIETNAM is making a mockery of its obligations under the UN Human Rights Council, an international rights group said.

The communist country has rejected a raft of recommendations to improve its rights record raised during a periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council that ended this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.

"Vietnam - a member of the UN Security Council - has made a mockery of its engagement at the UN Human Rights Council," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director of the New York-based organisation.

"Vietnam rejected even the most benign recommendations based on the international covenants it has signed, such as allowing people to promote human rights or express their opinions."

Hanoi rejected 45 recommendations from UN member states, HRW said, including lifting internet and blogging controls on privately owned media, allowing groups and individuals to promote human rights, abolishing the death penalty and releasing peaceful prisoners of conscience.

Of the 93 recommendations accepted by the Vietnamese Government, many consisted only of broad statements of intent to "consider" proposals by member states, HRW said.

"Shockingly, Vietnam denied to the Human Rights Council that it has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of peaceful dissidents and independent religious activists," said Ms Pearson.

"Yet in just the four months since Vietnam's last appearance at the council, it has arrested scores more."

Vietnam said during the Human Rights Council review process that it had no "so-called 'prisoners of conscience'", that no one was arrested for criticising the Government and denied torturing offenders.

"Like China, Vietnam has rebuffed the Human Rights Council in an effort to sanitise its abysmal rights record," said Ms Pearson.

"The UN's rights review offers proof to the world that despite international concern, Vietnam has no real intention of improving its record."

The UN Human Rights Council made its recommendations after one of its regular examinations of a state's human rights records.

More than 10 people have been arrested recently in Vietnam for spreading "propaganda against the state". HRW highlighted the case of Huynh Ba, a land rights activist and member of the Khmer Krom ethnic minority who led protests by farmers in the Mekong Delta over confiscation of their land who was arrested on May 30.

More than 1000 members of the largely Christian Montagnards community fled to Cambodia after security forces put down demonstrations in the Central Highlands in 2001 against land confiscation and religious persecution.

Vietnam has strongly denied a 2006 accusation by Human Rights Watch that it detained and tortured Montagnards who returned home under a tripartite agreement after fleeing to Cambodia.

Forum helps Vietnamese businesses in Cambodia

Vietnamplus
posted: 26 Sept, 2009

A forum aiming to improve the integration of Vietnamese businesses into the Cambodian economy and society was held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 25.

Speaking at the event, Cambodian Commercial Counsellor to Vietnam Yev Kim Hean said that the multi-faceted cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia has been continuously developing over recent years.

At present, more than 100 Vietnamese companies are operating in Cambodia, including major players such as the Vietnam Rubber Group, Vietnam Airlines, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV).

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam’s investment in Cambodia is still humble with 39 projects capitalised at over 211 million USD by February 2009.

The projects mainly focus on the agro-forestry sector, with 11 projects worth nearly 116 million USD, followed by services with 15 projects valued at 59.5 million USD and the industrial sector with 13 projects worth 35.8 million USD.

However, a major breakthrough was recorded during a discussion between Cambodian ministries and Vietnamese investors last month when the two sides signed a large number of contracts representing a total in investment capital of 462 million USD.

According to experts, in order to improve their integration into Cambodia, Vietnamese businesses should be updated with information on Cambodia’s political and economic situation as well as socio-economic policies.

They should be also provided with capital support, tax preferences and labour training. The Cambodian government needs to have policies to facilitate investment by foreign enterprises, especially those from Vietnam, they said./.

Vietnam: Government Rejects UN Proposals to Improve its Rights Record

Story by Human Rights Watch
New Arrests of Peaceful Critics Show Vietnam Lacks Commitment to Protecting Human Rights

(New York) - The Vietnamese government has rejected and ignored recommendations to improve its deteriorating human rights record raised during the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review process that ended this week, Human Rights Watch said today.
"Shockingly, Vietnam denied to the Human Rights Council that it has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of peaceful dissidents and independent religious activists," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Yet in just the four months since Vietnam's last appearance at the council, it has arrested scores more."

Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Vietnam asserted during the Human Rights Council review process that it has no "so-called ‘prisoners of conscience';" that no one is arrested for criticizing the government, only for violating Vietnam's laws; that its national security laws "conform to international law;" and "there is no practice of torture or degrading treatment of law offenders and those under detention for investigative purposes."

In Vietnam's final report, adopted by the Human Rights Council on September 24 as part of a required review process for all UN member states, the Vietnamese government refused to seriously discuss or respond to many of the Human Rights Council's recommendations.

Instead, Vietnam rejected 45 recommendations from member states. These included proposals that the government lift internet and blogging controls and prohibitions on privately owned media; allow groups and individuals to promote human rights, express their opinions and publicly dissent; expedite local registration of religious organizations and equitable resolution of religious property disputes; take steps to abolish the death penalty; repeal or amend national security laws used to criminalize peaceful dissent, and release peaceful prisoners of conscience.

Vietnam also refused to issue standing invitations to UN rights experts to visit Vietnam, including UN special rapporteurs on freedom of expression, religious freedom, torture, human rights defenders, and violence against women, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

"Vietnam - a member of the UN Security Council - has made a mockery of its engagement at the UN Human Rights Council," said Pearson. "Vietnam rejected even the most benign recommendations based on the international covenants it has signed, such as allowing people to promote human rights or express their opinions."

Of the 93 recommendations accepted by the Vietnamese government, many consisted of only broad statements of intent to "consider" proposals by member states. Vietnam also claimed to have already carried out - or to be in the process of carrying out - recommended measures to ensure full respect of freedom of religion and to prevent violence and discrimination against ethnic minorities.

"Like China, Vietnam has rebuffed the Human Rights Council in an effort to sanitize its abysmal rights record," said Pearson. "The UN's rights review offers proof to the world that despite international concern, Vietnam has no real intention of improving its record."

On the positive side, after the Human Rights Council's interactive dialogue on Vietnam's rights review in May, the Vietnamese government reduced the number of crimes punishable by capital punishment.

Dodging and Denial of Rights Abuses
Vietnam, which sent 25 high-level officials from Hanoi to Geneva to lobby member states during the May dialogue, attempted to pad the speakers' list with like-minded states whose representatives commended Vietnam's accomplishments in human rights and poverty reduction.

The country's final report stated that Cuba had praised Vietnam's successes, "based in a system freely chosen by the people," and its protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, while Sri Lanka had asserted that "Vietnam more than any other country has stood up for the human rights of its own people and throughout the world by fighting for national independence, freedom and social progress."

Vietnamese state television broadcast the first 20 minutes of the interactive dialogue, which included speeches by representatives of seven friendly states who lined up early, but the broadcast was terminated when Canada's representative, who was critical of Vietnam's rights record, rose to speak.

At least 15 states, including the Czech Republic, which held the EU presidency at the time of the May dialogue, were unable to speak because of time restraints. Of the 60 states whose representatives did speak, a broad range of countries made strong recommendations, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Arbitrary Detentions
Despite Vietnam's denials that it arbitrarily arrests and imprisons peaceful government critics, human rights defenders, political bloggers, and independent church activists, the government has arrested scores more since May.

In August, for example, the Vietnamese state news agency reported that 27 people had been arrested for their alleged links to the Democratic Party of Vietnam, which like all parties in Vietnam other than the ruling Communist Party, is banned. Of those arrested, at least five - including the prominent rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh - have been prosecuted on national security charges. More than a dozen other dissidents and democracy activists arrested during the last year on national security charges await trial.

Many of the recent arrests have taken place away from the public spotlight. On May 30, for example, police arrested a land rights activist, Huynh Ba, a member of the Khmer Krom ethnic minority who led protests of farmers in the Mekong Delta over confiscation of their farm land. Since his arrest, he has been held incommunicado in Soc Trang provincial prison.

Since May, more than 30 Montagnard Christians belonging to independent house churches in Gia Lai province have been arrested, with some severely beaten, for holding unsanctioned prayer meetings in their homes. In addition, nine Montagnards were sentenced in recent months to prison terms of up to 12 years on national security charges, joining another 300 Montagnards imprisoned since 2001.

"Vietnam's ongoing arrests of peaceful dissidents and church activists - conducted even as the UN was evaluating its rights record - shows its flagrant disregard for its international human rights obligations," said Pearson. "Member states should deliver a clear message to Vietnam that it needs to uphold its international rights commitments."

Cambodians testify for war crimes tribunal

By GILLIAN FLACCUS (AP)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The tiny Cambodian woman trembled slightly and stared blankly ahead as she told the story that has haunted her for half a lifetime: her parents and brother died in Khmer Rouge labor camps. Her baby perished in a refugee camp.

Roth Prom has wanted to die every day since and had never spoken those words so publicly until last week, when five minutes became the chance for justice she has longed for silently for so many years.

"I'm depressed in my head, I'm depressed in my stomach and in my heart. I have no hope in my body, I have nothing to live for," she said quietly. "All I have is just my bare hands."

As the tiny woman in the polka dot blouse slipped back to her seat, many of the nearly two dozen other Cambodian refugees in the room began to weep. They know Prom's pain. They were all there to tell stories just like hers.

Prom, 63, is one of dozens of Cambodian refugees speaking publicly — many for the first time — about Khmer Rouge atrocities so a legal team can use their testimony in an international war crimes tribunal underway in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital.

From Virginia to California, refugees have spent the past few months pouring out long-suppressed memories to volunteers who fill notebooks with reports of gang rapes, execution, starvation, forced labor and brutal beatings. They attach names of dead relatives, sometimes a half-dozen per person, and scrawl out names of labor camps and far-flung villages where they lived for years on the edge of starvation.

The Khmer Rouge is implicated in wiping out an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians, nearly a quarter of the population, during their rule from 1975-79 under Pol Pot. People died from disease, overwork, starvation and execution in the notorious "killing fields."

Cambodians who fled their homeland decades ago relish the chance to participate in the war crimes trials unfolding thousands of miles away. The tribunal, a joint court created by the Cambodian government and the United Nations, allows Khmer Rouge victims to participate as witnesses, complainants and civil parties.

Depending on the stories, the accuracy of their memories and their own willingness to participate, survivors could be called to testify for the prosecution or defense and those filing as civil parties could be entitled to reparations. At a minimum, all filings will be archived and reviewed by those collecting testimony from survivors.

Leakhena Nou, the Cambodian-American sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach organizing the U.S. workshops, said submitting evidence forms is cathartic for victims who have often kept their trauma secret from spouses and American-born children. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress and have symptoms of severe depression, including memory loss, flashbacks and suicidal thoughts.

"They have a sense of powerlessness, but they have a lot more power than they realize," said Nou, founder of the Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia. "Most of them have not even talked about it for 30 years. They've been silent for so long."

Last week, testimony in Phnom Penh concluded in the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, who commanded the S-21 prison where up to 16,000 people were tortured and killed. Eav, also known as Duch, was the first to go before the tribunal and is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture. More than 23,000 visitors attended his trial, which continues in November with closing arguments.
Four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders are in custody awaiting trial set for January. Any testimony submitted by the end of the year can be used by prosecutors to bolster those cases.
The U.N. and Cambodian branches of the tribunal did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Grassroots organizers with backing from the Asian Pacific American Institute at New York University have been building trust within the Cambodian-American communities for nearly two years but still expected many to shun the process out of fear and suspicion. Some victims believe the tribunal is run by the Khmer Rouge, while others fear if they speak out they could endanger relatives still living in Cambodia.

But Nou said turnout has been high, with some people even traveling from Arizona to share stories at the Southern California workshops held at a Cambodian community center.

"Before, they assumed that no one wanted to listen to them," she said. "They'll say, 'We thought that no one cared, that no one wanted to listen. But now that I know people want to listen, I have nothing else to lose. I've lost everything else already.'"

So far, the team has collected more than 100 statements from Cambodian expatriates at workshops in Virginia, Maryland, Orange County and Long Beach — home to the largest Cambodian ex-pat population. Future sessions are planned this fall in Oregon, Northern California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

They've uncovered chilling stories along the way.

One woman in Long Beach told of being gang-raped from dawn to dusk by Khmer Rouge cadres while 6 1/2 months pregnant. She never told her husband and only came forward last week because he had passed away.

Another recalled being held at gunpoint with her brother and being forced to watch as her father was executed and then disemboweled, his heart, liver and stomach ripped out by soldiers. The woman, now in her 50s, told the story to a volunteer in three distinct "spirit voices," as if to detach herself from the painful memories.

For Prom, the recent workshop in Little Cambodia was a chance to honor the memory of her loved ones — and to get justice for the brutal crimes that ruined her life and so many others. The Khmer Rouge split up her family, she was forced to pull a plow through rice paddies like an ox and her child died later in a refugee camp.

Prom harbors thoughts of killing herself and suffers from memory loss. She's terrified of the night — the time when Khmer Rouge soldiers would take neighbors away without explanation, never to be seen again.

"I try to forget, but it's hard to forget," Prom told a translator who dictated it to a volunteer law student. Prom had already penciled her story on paper in the rolling script of her native Khmer.
"I want to find justice for myself and for the Cambodian people," she said. "I'm here to teach history to the next generation, so this horrific crime will never happen again."

Vietnam War Vets Finally Get Their Homecoming, A Day in Their Honor

By Nathan Baca, News Channel 3 Reporter
nbaca@kesq.com
26/09/2009

TWENTYNINE PALMS - California is giving Vietnam Veterans their due.
Friday at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill creating "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day."

"We are gathering this morning to say to our Vietnam Veterans what should have been said a long time ago: Welcome home, welcome home, welcome home," said the governor.

Nearly 6,000 Californians were killed in Vietnam, but for those who came home alive, airport homecomings were often hostile.

Veteran Ralph Ford recalls, "We had to walk past the chain link fence into customs inspection. We were spat on and called all kinds of foul names. This day, today, is long, long overdue."

Signing the document makes California one of a series of states that creates a day especially for Vietnam War education in schools and community centers.

Mixed in the crowd were active-duty Marines connected to these Vietnam War veterans by a common cause. Many have shared the incommunicable experience of war including Yucca Valley's own Assemblyman Paul Cook, a Vietnam Veteran and author of the bill signed by the governor.

"You can get into positions of power and can make a difference. This is one when you get done and we pass so much silly legislation I think, now you can finally say, look at the guys and their families, the tears in their eyes and say you've made a difference. It was all worth it," says Assemblyman Cook.

Actor Jon Voight addressed the crowd. He is pushing for "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" to be signed into law nationwide.

"I was one of those caught up in the hysteria at the end of the 60s. I deeply regret it," Voight said. "I regrettably was part of a rebellion, against the Vietnam War. Not knowing then that the war could have had an entirely different ending at the time. The bloodbath of millions of innocent people in Cambodia and South Vietnam that occurred when our troops were pulled out could have been avoided. We could have won the war."

Assembly Bill 717 designated March 30th ever year as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

Never before seen – but about to vanish forever

Published Date: 26 September 2009

A BIRD-EATING fanged frog that lies in wait for its prey in streams and a bird that only takes flight when frightened are among newly discovered species whose future is threatened by climate change, conservationists have said.

A report by wildlife charity WWF revealed 163 species of plants and animals, including two mammals and a leopard patterned gecko with orange eyes and "technicolour skin", were found in the jungles and rivers of the Greater Mekong region last year.

But researchers are already sounding the alarm over the survival of the newly discovered species, with the Mekong delta thought to be one of the three deltas on Earth most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

WWF said rising seas and saltwater intrusion would have serious impacts on coastal areas in the Mekong River delta.

Recent studies also showed the Greater Mekong region is getting warmer, the charity said, and climate change is expected to cause more extreme weather such as floods and droughts, disrupt the availability of freshwater and affect species' ranges, migration and flowering.

The changing climate will add to existing environmental problems such as rapid development and logging in the region, where just 5 per cent of natural habitat remains, the report warned.

Heather Sohl, of WWF-UK, said: "It is great news that science is uncovering exciting and unusual new species like the fanged frog and the leopard gecko, but it is very worrying that no sooner do we find a new species, than we have to sound the alarm over their prospects for survival.

"Rare, endangered and endemic species like these will be especially vulnerable to climate change, which has the potential to reduce their already restricted habitats."

She urged world leaders to take action now to prevent "runaway climate change" and help protect wildlife-rich regions such as the Greater Mekong.

The Close Encounter report by WWF said 100 plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, two mammals and the Nonggang babbler bird, which was seen walking over rocks but rarely flying or in trees, were found for the first time in 2008 in the Greater Mekong.

Among the plant discoveries were two wild bananas, six orchids and 27 new palm trees, while the new animals included seven species of snake, a bat and a shrew.

The new discoveries add to the wealth of wildlife including the Javan rhino, Indochinese tiger and the Irrawaddy dolphin found in the region, where more than 1,000 species have been discovered in the past decade alone.

Scientists said there is so much wildlife there that some of last year's discoveries – such as the tiger-striped pitviper – were made entirely by accident by researchers exploring the region.

Dr Lee Grismer, of La Sierra University in California, said: "We were engrossed in trying to catch a new species of gecko when my son pointed out that my hand was on a rock mere inches away from the head of a pitviper.

"We caught the snake and the gecko, and they both proved to be new species."The Greater Mekong region spans Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and the south western Chinese province of Yunnan.

WWF: Newly discovered rare species threatened

Some species will be able to adapt to climate change, many will not, potentially resulting in massive extinctions.

Rie Jerichow
26/09/2009

The good news: During 2008 alone, scientists identified 100 new plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, two mammals and a bird, all within the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia. It covers areas in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan.

The bad news: No sooner are these new species discovered than their survival is threatened by the devastating impacts of climate change, a new report from conservation group WWF is estimating. ”

Forecasts for the Greater Mekong region show that climate change will dramatically alter ecosystems,” says Geoffrey Blate, WWF's regional climate change coordinator, according to Reuters.

The most recent International Panel on Climate Change report predicts that rising seas will cause major impacts, especially in the Mekong River delta. ”

Some species will be able to adapt to climate change, many will not, potentially resulting in massive extinctions...Rare, endangered and endemic species like those newly discovered are especially vulnerable because climate change will further shrink their already restricted habitats,” says Stuart Chapman, director of the WWF Greater Mekong Programme, according to panda.org.