Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cambodia's stampede death toll reaches 351

via CAAI

Source: Xinhua
November 28 2010

Four more Cambodians reported on Sunday dead in the stampede tragedy happened on Monday night on Diamond Island bridge during the final day of the Water Festival, bringing the total number of the dead to 351.

The four new dead, two died from serious injury and the other two were reported from the families of the dead to the local authorities, said a letter signed Sunday by Minister of Social Affairs Ith Samheng, who is also the chairman of the sub-committee on urgent settlement on Diamond Island Casualties.

The letter recorded 351 dead people including 129 men and 222 women and 394 injured. The injured people are in hospitals and get free-of-charge treatment and get 1 million riel (250 U.S. dollars) donation from the government and charitable groups.

Cambodia's Water Festival from Nov. 20 to 22 is the largest annual festival in the Southeast Asian nation, around three million Cambodians, especially those from rural areas converged to the city to enjoy the regatta.

Officials said the swinging of the bridge is the cause of the accident. The bridge is a kind of suspension one, but people were not aware of it and when it (the bridge) swung, some people thought it was collapsing and burst out shouting and the crowded people on it began to push each other back and forth and causing fatalities.

The dead were from suffocation and stampede and no any evidence found about terrorism or electrocution, according to the officials.

World Cinema: Cambodians take hard self-look

Two new movies in the nation's inaugural film fest deal with the Khmer Rouge horror.

Suon, a Khmer Rouge militia commander, in "Enemies of the People," a documentary directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath. (Old Street Films)

By Dustin Roasa, Special to the Los Angeles Times
November 28, 2010

via CAAI

Reporting from Phnom Pehn, Cambodia — On an unseasonably cool evening last month, nearly 700 people filed into the Chenla Theater for the final night of the inaugural Cambodia International Film Festival. The four-day event had drawn sizable audiences to films from more than 30 countries, but it was the premiere on this night of a Cambodian film called "Lost Loves" that attracted the festival's largest crowd. As TV crews angled for shots of the well-coifed cast members stepping onto the red carpet, inside the theater multigenerational families chatted excitedly and students snapped cellphone photos and waved to friends.

"Lost Loves" tells the true story of a woman who lost most of her family during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, which oversaw the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Although the brutal communist regime has proved fertile ground for many foreign productions, most notably "The Killing Fields," which won three Academy Awards in 1984, "Lost Loves," by 45-year-old Chhay Bora, is the first feature film about the Khmer Rouge by an all-Cambodian cast and crew in nearly 25 years. It is only the second such movie made since the regime's demise (the first, a mid-1980s action movie called "Shadow of Darkness," did not make much of an impression here).

Together with another landmark Cambodian-made film released this year, "Enemies of the People," a documentary co-directed by and starring 42-year-old journalist Thet Sambath that examines the motives behind the mass slaughter, the movies are a sign that Cambodian filmmakers are finally ready to grapple with the traumas of the past.

"The Khmer Rouge has been a complex and political issue for a long time. But after 30 years, Cambodia is ready to cope with this," said Chhang Youk, a survivor and the country's foremost researcher of the regime. "You will begin to see more films about this subject now."

Both directors, who are self-taught and were boys during the Khmer Rouge, said their goal in making the films was to spur discussion about a topic that many people here would prefer to forget. "Helping people understand history is the most important thing I can do," Thet Sambath said. "I want Cambodians to know the truth about what happened. Then we can move forward as a country."

The films are generating a level of discussion about the Khmer Rouge that is rare in Cambodia. During many harrowing scenes in "Lost Loves," there were gasps from the audience, and many cried. "I'm no longer angry about the Khmer Rouge," Chhay Bora, who lost two brothers to the regime, told the crowd. "I just want to share with the nation, and with the world, Cambodia's untold story."

"When our parents tell us about their experiences during the Khmer Rouge, we have a hard time believing them," Lim Seang Heng, a 22-year-old university graduate, said after the premiere, echoing a common sentiment. "Telling stories is not enough, because we can't see. Film allows us to see."

Although "Lost Loves" and "Enemies of the People" are very different movies — the former focuses on the nightmarish experiences of one family, while the latter investigates larger issues such as motives and reconciliation — they are complementary.

"Lost Loves," co-written by and starring Chhay Bora's wife, actress Kauv Sotheary, follows Phnom Penh resident Amara, a character based on the actress' mother, as she is shipped with her family into a forced labor camp in the countryside. She endures overwork, near starvation and the death of family members before emerging from her nightmare shellshocked, yet defiantly hopeful, after the Vietnamese invasion in 1979.

Shot in the Cambodian countryside, "Lost Loves" is at times strikingly beautiful, featuring wide-angle shots of shimmering rice paddies and skies smeared purple with the setting sun. But these scenes are punctuated by acts of brutality, turning the landscape into a "prison of torture and killing," as Amara says in the film.

As Amara adapts to this alien world, the familiar structures of Cambodian life crumble around her: She is separated from her family, cruel and uneducated children take positions of authority over adults, and unending, grinding labor under the hot sun becomes the central fact of her life. The mysterious Angkar ("organization" in English), the Khmer Rouge's name for itself, is omnipresent yet somehow always hidden. "The village chiefs endlessly talked about Angkar, Angkar, Angkar, but I didn't know what Angkar was," Amara says in the film.

"Enemies of the People," which was just named as one of 15 contenders for the Academy Award for best documentary feature, attempts to answer some of Amara's questions. Director Thet Sambath, a reporter

at the English-language Phnom Penh Post, spent 10 years traveling alone with a camera into the countryside to interview Nuon Chea, second in command to the late leader Pol Pot and the regime's highest-ranking surviving leader, and foot soldiers who carried out the regime's murderous policies.

English director Rob Lemkin worked with Thet Sambath to craft this raw footage into a finished film. The director was driven by a need to understand the killers' motives (his parents and brother died under the Khmer Rouge) and to share what he found with other Cambodians.

"No one has confessed to killing during the regime," he said. "I felt that maybe I could talk to the killers and understand why they killed."

In "Enemies of the People," Nuon Chea admits for the first time on record that the leadership ordered executions, about which he expresses remorse. But it is the director's interviews with two low-level killers, Soun and Khoun, that are most haunting. They speak matter-of-factly about killing their victims by slashing their throats, dumping their bodies in mass graves and, in one scene, drinking bile from a human gall bladder.

Although it was men like Soun and Khoun who killed Thet Sambath's brother, the director was able to forgive them, an act of reconciliation that he hopes can be repeated throughout Cambodia. "I pity them. They don't understand how they ended up becoming killers," he said. In the film, Soun says he's haunted by shame and regret. "But I want to tell the truth exactly as it happened," he says onscreen. "Otherwise we will be gone soon and the next generation won't know the story."

The directors could not turn for help to the country's few film studios, which invest mostly in low-budget horror movies, the only reliable way to draw audiences to the two remaining cinemas in Phnom Penh. "People told me I was crazy to make this kind of film," Chhay Bora said. Regardless, the films have drawn capacity audiences at screenings in Phnom Penh, and there are plans to show them in rural Cambodia through unconventional means, such as at community forums held by nongovernmental organizations.

Long Beach mourns Cambodians lost in holiday stampede

via CAAI

Vigil kicks off fund-raising drive for survivors families of lost.

By Kristopher Hanson, Staff writer
Posted: 11/27/2010

11-27-10 - Savy Pan of Long Beach says a prayer during a prayer an candle light ceremony for the victims of the tragedy at the Water Festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Stephen Carr / Press-Telegram)

11-27-10 - Melissa Suos, 9, and her sister Melinda,4, make a donation for the victims in this week's tragedy at the Water Festival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Members of the Cambodian American Business Association and other civic organizations held a fundraiser and memorial Saturday at MacArthur Park, 1321 E. Anaheim St. (Stephen Carr / Press-Telegram)

LONG BEACH — Dozens of mourners gathered here Saturday to remember and raise funds for nearly 800 people killed or injured Nov. 22 in a panic-induced stampede during a national holiday in Cambodia.

The memorial and candlelight vigil drew people from across the Southern California to the heart of Cambodia's largest expatriate community, centered on East Anaheim Street in Central Long Beach.

The vigil, organized by the Cambodian American Business Association and other civic groups, launched a fund-raising drive to assist the injured and help the families of those killed.

Relief organizations say at least 395 were hurt and 347 killed.

"We're raising awareness, honoring the dead and collecting funds through the end of December to take back to Cambodia to help," said Steve Meng, a Long Beach resident who helped organize Saturday's event.

The group raised more than $2,500 on Saturday afternoon before performing traditional blessings for the dead. Earlier in the day, they visited dozens of local businesses to enlist help for further fundraising efforts.

Thary Ung, a community organizer and member of the Long Beach Police Complaint Commission, plans to fly to Cambodia in late December with funds raised in Southern California.

"Every bit helps, $1, $20...this money will go a long way to helping people recover," Ung noted. "The response so far has been very positive."

Tax-exempt donations can be made through the business coalition's website,

The tragedy erupted when a crowd of festival-goers stampeded across a small bridge outside the nation's capital, Phnom Penh, reportedly after the span began swaying violently as if nearing collapse.

The event deeply shocked the small, peaceful nation, still recovering from years of internal violence and foreign interference culminating in a genocide during the brutal 1975-79 reign of notorious despot Pol Pot.

Those injured and killed were among several thousand participating in an annual "Water Festival," a national ceremony marking the end of the monsoon season.

Aid groups report 221 females and 146 males were killed, mostly by suffocation or internal bleeding. A few drowned after being pushed from the bridge.

Long Beach is home to some 50,000 Cambodian immigrants and their descendents, many of whom arrived in America as refugees and have since formed a thriving cultural, business and educational community in the heart of America's most ethnically diverse city.

To learn more about the stampede and relief efforts, visit

Kristopher Hanson 562-499-1466

Cambodian stampede had air of inevitability

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Was aThe appalling human tragedy during the annual Bon Om Touk Festival in Phnom Penh was not only predictable but also preventable

Published: 28/11/2010

Cambodia's Rainbow Bridge tragedy is the country's biggest peacetime disaster, and the world's second worst such calamity after a similar stampede across the Tigris River in Baghdad left about 1,000 dead in 2005.

AFTERMATH: People place offerings and incense sticks for the victims of the stampede near the Diamond Gate bridge.

Rumours, panic and flight dominated both catastrophes as the sheer weight of numbers at this year's Bon Om Touk, or Water Festival in Phnom Penh resulted in an extraordinary death toll.

At the last count 347 (seems to be the most recent figure) people, mostly women, had died and at least another 755 were injured on the suspension bridge that linked the recently developed Diamond Island with the Cambodian capital across the Bassac River.

The response _ dominated by the blame game, the launch of special investigations, a day of mourning, pledges of financial support and condolences from across the globe _ was sadly almost as predictable as the crush itself.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith perhaps encapsulated the perspective of authorities before Monday evening's tragedy when he told journalists that police had been more concerned with pickpockets and boats capsizing than ''this kind of incident''.

The facts speak for themselves.

Completed earlier this year, Rainbow Bridge, also known as the north bridge, was a one-way route providing access from the island _ known locally as Koh Pich, or Diamond Island _ to the city. A second bridge, designed for people heading the other way, was closed.

On the final night of the three-day Water Festival a 10,000-strong crowd surged across the walkway towards a free concert. The number of people got out of hand, the crowd began pushing from both ends, the footbridge swayed sparking panic due to fears of a collapse, which led to the stampede. Rumours circulated among the trapped and frightened crowd that a fight had broken out. People leapt into the river and drowned. Others were trampled, suffocated and died of internal injuries.

Then witnesses said police started firing a water cannon into the crowd, possibly in a naive attempt to get people moving. But this just aggravated the situation by saturating the lighting and electrifying parts of the span. Authorities insist nobody was electrocuted despite eyewitness accounts contradicting this.

Tragedies in Cambodia always seem to have an air of inevitability about them.

The anti-Thai riots in 2003 and the massive slum fires around the same time, 40-odd land mine victims a month, floods, droughts and a high level of street crime amid police corruption and a culture of impunity have marred this country's return to peace over the past 12 years.

The trade-off has been the fulfillment of a national yearning to reconstruct Khmer culture, which had been dismantled by the the Khmer Rouge, 10 years of Vietnamese occupation and ongoing civil conflict for much of the 1990s.

Bringing back Khmer dance, music, traditional New Year, the Water Festival and annual boat races was helping get life back to ''normal'' for Cambodians.

The Water Festival heralds the end of the rainy season when the Tonle Sap is filled to the brim and reverses direction, feeding back into the Mekong River. It's when country folk come to town that the numbers can be terrifying. Three to four million people, or 20-25% of the country's entire population, are crammed into a few square kilometres of the capital.

Families hold onto each other and weave through the crowds along Sisowath Quay in file with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front hoping not to be separated or lost, all angling for the best view of the regatta.

The country cousins can be seen inspecting the buildings, restaurants and shops that have turned Phnom Penh into a rapidly modernising city.

For the most part, Phnom Penh is safe during the Water Festival, however, Cambodian crowd control measures are atrocious. Foreigners and middle-class Cambodians who live in the city know what to expect, and for more than a decade they have made an exodus during the festival.

At the official mourning ceremony on Thursday, Prime Minister Hun Sen shed tears as he paid his respects to the dead while the government noted in an official statement: ''This tragic, untimely and unexpected loss of many lives will remain a bitter and painful memory for Cambodia.''

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema sounded a similar note amid calls for his resignation, telling journalists this was ''a huge lesson for me and other authorities in preparing for such large events in the future This is an incident that no one wanted to happen, it happened unpredictably.''

City police chief Touch Naroth was a little understated but closer to the mark when he said sudden movement on the bridge had terrified the festival-goers, many of whom were from the provinces and unfamiliar with such bridges.

By most accounts Touch Naroth's men did their best after the stampede had taken its toll. But the prime minister has never favoured a fully professional police force, and prefers a patronage system that rewards loyalty over ability.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission issued a report saying there were contradictory accounts about what instigated the stampede _ crowd antics, poor bridge construction or a failure by the authorities to control the crowd.

''In addition to death by crushing, suffocation and drowning, there were multiple deaths due to electricity,'' it said.

The report noted it was clear Phnom Penh was unprepared for any large-scale disaster.

''Responses by police and military were lacking and may even have contributed to the stampede while hospitals were overwhelmed. Emergency and medical personnel resorted to piling bodies together, covering them with mats or sheets.''

When the authorities investigating the tragedy ask themselves who could have seen this coming, the answer really should be everybody. When they try and figure out exactly why so many died last Monday, one also hopes they will look at themselves and the man who employs them.

Boeung Kak Are Flooded by Sand

Preventing Greater Calamities Next Year – Saturday, 27.11.2010

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 692
via CAAI

Diamond Island Bridge - Source:

When I first received false information about the collapse of the ‘exit’ bridge at Diamond Island – Koh Pich in Khmer – due to a large crowd, a small island where festivities were usually held, I thought that this would happen anyway. Maybe I was too skeptical about any urban development in our city, as too many bad examples in the past can tell. Yet, what confirmed my fear was that I received more and more calls from friends about the rising death toll that finally reached 347, 221 of them women.

A few hours later, journalists and friends still kept calling to ask and to inform me about what had happened. Wire services published their news immediately after that. The deadly stampede was later reported to have killed so many people Cambodian history had never seen such an accident like at Diamond Island where many festival programs were celebrated this time. A few hours later, I received several calls from journalists abroad who demanded to know what happened.

The Deum Ampil online news, considered to be a mouthpiece of the government, came out before others without detailing the exact cause, but only saying that a certain number of people died, when people, mostly from the countryside, were walking on the suspension bridge during the last day of the Water Festival, known as the most exuberant festival in Cambodia.

It was actually the last day of one of the miraculous celebrations in Cambodia, where the capital Phnom Penh is almost taken over by people who come from the countryside. Phnom Penh belongs to them on the Water Festival days, and they can sleep along the streets. According to local media and words of witnesses, most people in the crowd were from among the poorest of the poor: garment factory workers, construction workers, slum dwellers, rice farmers, market sellers, and students, out for some good time in the Kingdom.

That same night the Cambodian prime minister came out live on TV several times, and during one of his speeches, he compared the ravages of the Khmer Rouge regime with the stampede tragedy.

A hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted by AFP as having said that many died of suffocation and electrocution – the latter was later denied by government officials and staff of the Koh Pich development company. Meanwhile, the causes remain unclear, but some witness in the crowd claim that electrocutions actually happened to those standing next to the fluorescent lights hanging all around the bridge.

Probably a more accurate and vivid description of how it happened comes from a survivor and staff of a private company, in an email forwarded to me, mentioning that out of the blue, a group of eight or nine young men came running and shouting, frightening other people walking on the bridge. With approximately 7,000 to 8000 people on the bridge, anything could happen. Within minutes, said the man, the crowd started to move, but because there were too many people, and screams “The bridge will collapse!” could be heard everywhere, and people were crushed and suffocated to death either up on the bridge or drowned under the bridge.

Earlier, online media had reported that police fired water canons at the people so that they would move faster, which was apparently a bad start when people were just fearing for their lives. This created more panic and led people into frenzy.

Investigations have been going on, and a report done by the government is expected to be released next week. The Cambodian public has been on the run in trying to find the real cause of the panic that led to the fatal stampede. What breaks people’s heart is that most of the dead were young people between 18 to 25 years, the age of strength to build the country that rose out of war just three decades ago.

One 15-year-old victim interviewed by me at Preah Ketmealea Hospital described the situation as the worst experience he had ever had.

“I felt like I was going to die. There was not enough air. It was hot and stuffy. There was no space for people to move, and they had to push each other to gasp for air,” said a 15 year old boy who had been in the middle of the crowd, Moeurn Piseth Sathya, who survived the ordeal.

On the same note, families lost wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, which is now just another suffering phase to bear for Cambodians, after the suffering from the loss of family during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Vey Sdeung, 61 years old, from Phnom Penh, had to prepare the funeral for her daughter who was the only one that supported her when she was still alive. Now that she is gone, Vey Sdeung has to live with the past. “I’m so scared, and I don’t know what to do. She’s the only daughter I have,” she said with tears in her eyes.

The past few days felt very different to me. Local TV channels replayed footage from the stampede [Click here to see a video watch?v=Gjn97sqPRsQ] again and again, bringing many people to tears. People were not shy to cry and to grieve in a café or in a restaurant when they watched it. At night, many households placed bananas, lit candles and incenses in front of their houses, dedicating these to the dead, while shops, restaurants, and entertainment places did not open. It was quiet and it was as if people were recollecting themselves and acknowledging the suffering of the their fellow citizens.

Cambodia has historically suffered for many years in civil wars, and now this tragedy was added. But on the Day of Mourning – on 25 November 2010 – many people from everywhere in Phnom Penh came to pay respect to the dead at the bridge. With shared suffering comes unity among Cambodians. A student who was collecting donations for the victims spoke of a beggar who donated some of his money for the victims. In a time of tragedy like this, Cambodians everywhere seemed to come out and show their love for their fellow people, and this clearly was a moment of social unity.

In many ways, the horror found in the bridge stampede reveals a mixture of poor crowd management and planning, lax enforcement of regulations from both police and civilians, and widely-spread corruption in the country.

The government has tried to do the right thing by paying Riel 5 million [approx. US$1,200] to each victim’s family, but given the status of this bureaucratic society, probably not all people who should will be able to get it. The Prime Minister wept on the Day of Mourning, but the questions remains: What will the government do to prevent still larger crowds from creating even greater calamities next year and beyond in the future? The government has already announced that next year, the Water Festival will be held again.

KEO Kounila

China Donates 500,000 USD to Cambodia's Stampede Victims

Web Editor: Yu

via CAAI

Chinese government on Friday donated 500,000 U.S. dollars to Cambodia to relieve the families of the dead and the injured in the stampede tragedy on Monday night at the Diamond Island Bridge during the final day of the Water Festival.

Jin Yuan, commercial counsellor of Chinese Embassy to Cambodia, on Friday informed the donation during meeting with Sok An, deputy prime minister and minister of the council of ministers, and also chairman of the special committee for Diamond Island Accident.

"On behalf of Cambodian government, I would like to profoundly thank China for her attention on the stampede tragedy and donate money timely to help the victims," said Sok An. "Cambodia and China are fraternal and always assist each other all the time."

The stampede tragedy left 357 people killed and other 397 injured, he said, adding that the dead were due to suffocation, stampede and drawn, no any sign of terrorism.

Sok An said that main cause of the tragedy was due to the very crowded people pushed each other back and forth, and some shouted the bridge was collapsing, causing the stampede.

Cambodia's Water Festival from Nov. 20 to 22 is the largest annual festival in the Southeast Asian nation, around three million Cambodians, especially those from rural areas converged to the city to enjoy the regatta.

Restoration of Ta Keo temple begins in Angkor Archaeological Park

via CAAI
2010-11-27 21:55:31

by Nguon Sovan

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Work on the restoration of the deteriorating Ta Keo temple in the complex of Angkor Archaeological Park began on Saturday afternoon under the financial aid of China.

"The restoration work will be taken eight years to complete ( 2011-2018) under the financial support of 40 million Yuan (about 6 million U.S. dollars) from the government of China," Bun Narith, director general of Apsara Authority, which is in charge of management, protection and conservation of Angkor Archaeological park, said during the opening ceremony of the restoration work on Saturday.

This is the second phase of Chinese government assistance for safeguarding, conserving and restoring Angkor activities after the first phase on the conservation and restoration of Chausay Tevada temple from 2000 and ended in December, 2008, costing 14 million Yuan (about 2 million U.S. dollars).

"China is one of more than ten countries that has trained Cambodian archaeological experts, and helped financially and technically to conserve and restore ancient temples at Angkor archaeological park," he said.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Cai Wu, minister of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China, and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of the Council of Ministers, as well as officials from UNESCO and Apsara Authority. Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue, other government and UNESCO officials, as well as more than two thousands people from all walks of life attended the ceremony.

Cai Wu said that he was very pleased to have a chance to see Angkor Wat, which is the world heritage, and to assist Cambodia in ancient temple conservation activities.

"The assistance to restore the temples will reflect the symbol of eternal friendship on culture cooperation between the two countries," he said. "Cambodia and China has a long history of friendship and bright civilizations, and China is committed to help Cambodia to preserve its cultural heritage and expand cooperation with Cambodia on all sectors."

Sok An expressed grateful thanks to China for the technical and

financial support for the conservation and restoration of Chausay Tevada temple in the past and now continues to restore Ta Keo temple.

"The start of the restoration work of Ta Keo temple is not the first project that China has helped Cambodia," he said. "China has helped Cambodia a lot to the development of the economy such as bridges, roads, irrigation systems, schools, hospitals, and the project to restore Chausay Tevada temple that finished in 2008."

"On behalf of the government of Cambodia and Cambodian people, I would like to thank the government of China and her people for valuable donations to conserve ancient temples as well as help to develop Cambodia all the time," he added.

"We hope that after the eight year restoration, Ta Keo temple will be as good as it was in original shape in the past," he added.

The restoration work begins after three year possibility studies by Chinese and Cambodian archaeological experts.

Ta Keo temple was built by King Jayavarman V and Suryavarman I from the late 10th century to the early 11th century and the kings dedicated this temple to Hinduism, according to the document from the Ministry of Tourism.

The monument of Ta Keo temple comprises of three level pyramids consisted of five rectangular terraces and five upper towers. This half finished massive pyramids rises to more than fifty meters high and this incomplete temple was built using so-called Khleang architecture.

The temple is located in the central zone of the Angkor archaeological site.

Editor: Fang Yang

From Cairo to Cambodia: How tennis is gunning for world domination

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By Sam Sheringham ,

Nov 27, 2010

It is a move the tennis world hopes will have as much impact on the court as a bullet-like passing shot from Roger Federer or a fierce smash from Serena Williams.

By decreeing that all competitions for kids under ten be played on smaller courts, with lighter rackets and slower balls, the International Tennis Federation ( ITF) has signaled its intention to copy the likes of soccer, baseball and basketball when it comes to getting youngsters hooked on the sport.

Like a little league match or five-a-side clash, the game's governing body is desperate to create an "explosion" of interest among youngsters and make tennis more accessible to potential stars of the future across the globe.

And while aping the approach of their sporting cousins is the immediate goal -- overtaking them is most definitely the long term aim.

"It's going to be a whole new ball game," Kurt Kamperman, the chief executive of Community Tennis at the United States Tennis Association, told CNN.

"I think this really will help create a huge explosion in new kids who choose this ahead of other sports. Very few other sports have young kids play on the same size fields as adults.

"With these balls and this equipment you can play anywhere. The balls are so slow that you don't need a lot of instruction to play. It can be spontaneous.

"Tennis has been behind the times in our approach to young kids. This is one of the best things we can do to develop future generations -- we want to create a big pool of talented athletes."

The new measures, introduced under the banner of 'Tennis 10s', insist on three types of ball, all slower than a regular tennis ball, two lighter rackets designed especially for kids, and two sizes of court.

The ITF initiative is also aimed at globalizing the appeal of a sport which remains largely focused around its heartlands of Europe, North America, South America and Australia. Since it was launched in 2007 it has spread the word in countries such as Myanmar, Rwanda and El Salvador.

Roger Federer is one of a legion of stars who are supporting the campaign, hosting coaching sessions in Portugal and South Africa. If kids are going to listen to anyone, it is the man with 16 Grand Slam titles under his belt.

Federer said: "I definitely think it's easier for kids with lighter rackets to play with a softer ball. You can really swing through the shots, the ball doesn't fly all over the place, and it's easier for the arm.

"Eventually, you've got to change to the proper tennis ball but in the beginning, for kids to start off with a softer tennis ball I think is a very good thing."

For countries with less international pedigree, like Cambodia, Egypt and El Salvador, this new method is proving a key weapon in boosting the popularity of tennis and keeping youngsters out of the clutches of other sports.

In El Salvador, there are now around 1,000 children playing the game and coach Cecilia Ancalmo says the new form of the game helps kids maintain a longer rally which, in turn, helps develop their confidence.

She told CNN: "The challenge has always been retention. We have been able to attract lots of kids to tennis, but very few stay in the game after 12 or 13. But we are seeing already more boys and girls and staying.

"Also, we see they are developing technically and tactically much better. In the past they learned to hit the ball but few learned to play the game. They are growing much better equipped to develop as competitive tennis players, if they choose to."

Hassan El Aroussy is a former Davis Cup player for his native Egypt and has embraced many of the methods now being insisted upon by the ITF in his role as director of the Palm Aroussy Tennis Academy in Cairo.

He told CNN: "It's an amazing sight, even though I see it everyday, how kids and juniors are getting into tennis and staying in it."

Yet despite Egypt's population of 80 million, only 100,000 play tennis, and just 4,000 of those are under the age of ten.

"The number one killer is football and number two is money," he added. "We need a national sponsor to come in and we need to change the perception of tennis as an expensive sport."

In Cambodia, they have faced an altogether different battle, after the game was virtually wiped out under the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.

But Rithivit Tep has done much to bring the game back to life after starting the Cambodia Tennis Federation in 1994, and he says it is vital to ensure those early lessons for young kids are fun.

He told CNN: "Kids under 12 or 14 have a very short attention span of about 10 minutes -- so after 10 minutes of hitting we play games, which involve tennis equipment, like jumping over the net, catching balls or juggling, all with prizes on offer. You have to make sure that its fun.

"After two or three months, they are hitting really well, finishing their strokes and really playing tennis. We are not teaching shots or strategies. We are just introducing tennis in a fun and imaginative way."

The game is enjoying a resurgence in Cambodia but there are only ten full-time coaches to around 2,500 budding young players. That is why Tep is promoting tennis in schools and offering teachers financial incentives to teach the game during recess.

With 60 per cent of the country's population under 17, Tep says there is plenty of opportunity for the game to flourish given the new approach being championed by the ITF.

It is a feeling the sport's governing body hope will soon be replicated the world over.

First Vietnamese supermarket to open in Cambodia

A corner of the first Vietnam Supermarket in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which will open in the end of December

via CAAI

Saturday ,Nov 27,2010

The first Vietnam Supermarket in Cambodia will open on December 29, creating advantageous condition for domestic businesses to sell and advertise Vietnamese goods to people in this neighboring country.

Construction of the Vietnam Supermarket, in Monivong Street, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has a total capital of US$3 million, invested by Z38 Company, a member of Vietnamese Business Association in Cambodia.

Located on 3,300 square meters, the supermarket will sell goods for Vietnamese companies with the prices set by themselves. Payment would be conducted through Agribank, BIDC Bank and Sacombank.

Seng Meng, the supermarket chairman and the association deputy chairman, said that the Vietnam Supermarket will meet demand of oversea Vietnamese living in Cambodia and the rising number of Cambodian who have loved Vietnamese goods.

In addition, the facility will help those who want to but yet expand business to Cambodia as they have been afraid of language difference and procedures, he said.

Besides having his supermarket to sell their goods, Vietnamese companies could hire stalls to do that themselves. The Vietnam Supermarket will assist them with export-import procedures and selling staff, who are oversea Vietnamese being able to speak both Vietnamese and Cambodian.

The Z38 Company has planned to open another three Vietnam Supermarkets in other Cambodian provinces including the famous tourist destination Siem Reap.

By Hai Mien

Akron natives wage campaign against sex trafficking of children

 via CAAI

Published: Saturday, November 27, 2010
Pat Galbincea, The Plain Dealer

MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Akron natives Carl and Laurie Ralston have a strong calling to prevent the sex trafficking of children.

They've dedicated their lives to doing something about it. It was one of the reasons they recently brought 21-year-old Nhu Thanh, a sex-trafficking victim at age 12 while in Cambodia, to Grace Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Middleburg Heights to talk about the problem.

The Ralstons were so moved by Nhu's story when they learned of her plight in 2003 that one year later -- before they ever met or saw her -- Carl Ralston sold his lucrative insurance business in Akron to establish Remember Nhu, an IRS-recognized nonprofit organization to help prevent children from entering the sex trade.

"I had heard about Miss Nhu from a missionary in Cambodia," Ralston said. "After he told his story about her, God spoke to my heart. My wife and I wanted to help this young lady."

Six-year search finally finds sex trafficking victim

The Ralstons made six trips to Cambodia over three years before they found her. They walked up and down the Mekong River with Nhu's picture, asking people if they recognized her.

They finally found someone who recognized Nhu in July 2006. The Ralstons found her working in a hair salon in Phnom Penh.

Her story, which she told earlier this month in services at Grace CMA Church, evoked tears from the congregation, according to church Senior Pastor Jonathan Schaeffer.

Carl Ralston first talked about Nhu to church members three years earlier, explaining how he hoped to establish Remember Nhu. One member wrote him a check for $5,000.

Grandmother, deep in debt to feed family, sells girl into sex trade

Nhu, who spoke with The Plain Dealer at the church Tuesday, said her mother abandoned her when she was only 3 days old. She has seen her mother only three times in her life.

She was raised by her grandmother, but by the time she was 12, her grandmother had to borrow money to feed and clothe the family -- with interest at 10 percent per week on the unpaid balance.

Nhu said that since there was no work in Cambodia, her grandmother sold her to a woman who in turn demanded Nhu satisfy the sexual desires of a man who was 30 years older. She spent three days with him in a hotel.

Nhu was sold into sexual slavery two more times before she begged her grandmother to stop for fear she would be sold next to a brothel.

"I went to school to learn cosmetology when I was 13," Nhu said, "and I cleaned at the school because I couldn't afford the tuition. When I completed one year of school, I went to work when I was 14 -- working 12 hours a day with one or two days off a month."

Instead of intervention, giving children a home -- and hope

That's when the Ralstons found Nhu and were able to assist her. Carl Ralston decided to build a home in Cambodia to educate and shelter children like Nhu who were at risk of being sold into sex trafficking.

"My wife and I decided to focus on preventing sex trafficking rather than intervening," he said. "Intervention hasn't worked well. We researched and found it takes $6,000 a year to try and get a child out of the sex trade . . . and found 75 percent of them fall back or relapse into it.

"But the cost of prevention is only $700 a year to care for and train and educate these children, and only 3 percent of them end up in the sex trade."

The Ralstons' first home was built in Phnom Penh in January 2007, housing 18 children. Nhu became the home's first employee, helping train the children and then opening up a hair salon. Most children came via word-of-mouth seeking a haven from sex trafficking.

From this origin, Remember Nhu now has eight homes in five countries -- Cambodia, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma) -- with about 200 children. The Ralstons have rescued 300 children.

"We teach the kids English, get them computer literate and send them to public schools," Carl Ralston said. "We want to get them into college, but if they're not college bound, we get them vocational training.

"We keep these kids safe from sex trafficking . . . and that can be up to age 22. We keep them until they are no longer at risk."

Caring for a child costs $60 a month

The Ralstons said they can care for each child -- giving them food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care -- for $60 a month. The last home they built in Thailand cost $120,000 and houses 60 children and young adults.

Nhu and the Ralstons have received major help from 3,500-member Grace CMA Church. There are 70 individuals sponsoring 70 girls at risk, Schaeffer said, and 41 families are sponsoring the building of another Remember Nhu home next March in Thailand.

Carl Ralston, who is 49, and his 42-year-old wife plan to fight sex trafficking overseas until the problem is eradicated. They, along with Nhu, moved to Thailand in May.

"We're committed to stop this until the day we die," he said. "We figure sex trafficking became a big problem in a 10-year period of time, so maybe we can stop it in a 10-year period."

As for Nhu, her plans are to improve her English so she can speak eloquently on behalf of the organization named after her.