Monday, August 31, 2009

Cambodia cuts troops at temple

By The Nation'
Published on August 31, 2009

Cambodia has cut back its military presence at Preah Vihear Temple - a trigger point in the past year - while Thailand's Parliament is expected to allow the two countries to move ahead with boundary demarcation in the overlapping area.

"We have pulled out 50 per cent of the troops from Preah Vihear Temple," Chhum Socheat, spokesman for Cambodia's National Defence Ministry, said yesterday.

"This shows that the situation at the border is really getting better, and that both countries have a mutual understanding of peace," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the controversial Hindu temple since last year when Thailand opposed Phnom Penh's move to inscribe the Khmer sanctuary on Unesco's list of world heritage sites.

After the UN World Heritage Committee granted the coveted status in July 2008, both countries boosted their military forces in the area, with clashes following twice in October and April, leaving seven soldiers of both sides dead.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last week said Thailand had just 30 soldiers stationed on the border, meaning Cambodia could stand some troops down and send them back to their provincial bases.

"We still have enough troops remaining to protect our territory," said General Chea Dara, deputy commander of Cambodia's armed forces.

If Thailand "shows a softer manner" they could cut the numbers further. "However, if anything happened, our troop mobility would be very swift," he said.

The Thai government in June re-ignited the row over the temple when it asked Unesco to reconsider its decision to list the temple located in Cambodia.

However, Unesco did not take the Thai request into consideration. The foreign ministries of the two neighbours maintained peaceful means to resolve the dispute through the Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC).

The JBC met last November, February and April to set a framework on boundary demarcation and provisional arrangements for the disputed area near Preah Vihear.

The results of the three meetings need approval from Parliament so further discussions on the details can be held.

Parliament is set to meet today to consider the minutes submitted by the Foreign Ministry, after the motion was postponed from last week since the Lower House was busy with the marathon debate on the budget bill.

Some senators, however, said they would reject the JBC minutes and demanded the government take a tough position to evict a Cambodian community from the contested area that they considered was under Thai sovereignty.


Published: 31/08/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business
The issue of land ownership by foreigners has always been highly emotional in Thailand and other developing countries. The debate has intensified in the last year, with increasing allegations that foreigners are buying up prime land through Thai nominees.

World staple crop prices spiked last year after rising oil prices prompted the diversion of some crops for energy use instead of food. Countries that rely heavily on food imports started looking abroad. Anecdotal reports abound in Thailand, though documentation is scarce, of Middle Eastern interests engaging local brokers to secure large tracts of Thai farmland.

Indeed, Gulf countries are chasing investments in farmland and agricultural businesses in many developing countries to secure food supplies. Sudan has seen a fifth of its cultivated land set aside for Arab governments. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have secured 400,000 hectares each in Sudan to plant wheat, while South Korea has 690,000 hectares, also for wheat. Saudi Arabia is said to be investing about US$100 million in Ethiopia on leased land to grow wheat, barley and rice. The UAE, meanwhile, has invested in farmland in Kazakhstan with an intention to purchase more land in Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia and South America for food crops.

The Bangkok Post recently asked two prominent figures to discuss the pros and cons of foreign land ownership. We asked each to respond to the following seven questions:

1Do you agree with existing laws prohibiting foreigners from engaging in domestic farming activities? Why or why not?

2Thailand produces more agricultural crops than are needed for domestic consumption. Given the agricultural sector's existing dependence on export markets, why shouldn't we consider liberalising land ownership and foreign business laws to permit direct foreign investment in the sector?

3Over several decades, Thailand has progressively liberalised various industrial and service sectors to allow foreign participation. Is agriculture inherently different than any other sector?

4 Proponents of deregulation argue that allowing farmers to sell their property to foreign investors would help address the long-standing problems of rural poverty. Do you agree or disagree?

5Despite current land ownership restrictions, it is widely known that nominee structures are used by Japanese, Taiwanese and other Asian investors to participate in the local agricultural sector. Considering the country's difficulties in enforcing current law, would it not simply be more practical to rethink our policies?

6Successive governments have urged Thai businesses themselves to invest overseas, particularly in neighbouring countries. Several leading Thai firms have done so, including ventures in the agricultural sector. Is it not hypocritical that Thai companies are seeking to invest abroad while we still restrict foreign investment in the country?

7If foreign investment in agriculture were allowed, should there be safeguards covering the size of land holdings, the scope of activities or the exporting of output?

RM awardee: Cheap drugs for poorest

By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08/31/2009

Filed Under: Awards and Prizes, Medicines, Health, Diseases, Pharmaceuticals
MANILA, Philippines—Thai pharmacist Krisana Kraisintu vividly remembers coming to the Philippines many years ago and visiting a large Filipino-owned drug manufacturing facility.

Someone generously shared with her the formula for a tuberculosis medicine that she took back to her home country and worked on so that the sick poor could avail of it.

It was a display of Filipino generosity Kraisintu would never forget and she often mentions it. She wishes she knew who it was in Unilab that gave her the formula.

But Kraisintu’s own generosity is evident as she continues to share her expertise and live a life of service in order to help not just the people of Thailand but also many poor African countries where diseases, particularly HIV-AIDS, threaten the lives of a staggering number of the population.

Kraisintu, 57, is one of the six recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards for 2009 who will be honored on Monday. The feisty pharmacist is being hailed “for placing pharmaceutical rigor at the service of patients, through her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and elsewhere in the world.”

“A crime against humanity and a holocaust of the poor.” This is how Kraisintu considers the high cost of medicines that are beyond the reach of the poor.

A daughter of a doctor-father and a nurse-mother, Kraisintu was drawn to the field of health and medicine. Kraisintu saw that the scourge of HIV-AIDS could be reversed if only antiretroviral drugs could be made cheaper.

She played a pivotal role in saving many lives, babies especially. Kraisintu credits compatriot Meechai Vairavadya, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee in 1994 for his work on HIV-AIDS prevention.

Kraisintu made a complimentary groundbreaking effort by using science to reverse the AIDS pandemic through cheaper drugs for those already infected with HIV.

Women and HIV-AIDS

“I used to be a member of a political party,” Kraisintu tells the Inquirer. But she had a falling out with one of the leaders because of his contemptuous attitude toward women who were in the flesh industry and who were vulnerable to HIV-AIDS.

Armed with her doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from Bath University in England, Kraisintu buckled down to work. She joined the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) in 1983 and led its research department in producing many generic medicines for a wide range of illnesses.

“I am a pharmacist, not a pharmacologist,” Kraisintu explains.

With Thailand facing the threat of the HIV-AIDS epidemic, Kraisintu saw the need for research in order to develop cheap generic antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

She faced daunting problems: Lack of government support, skeptical colleagues and lawsuits from drug companies. Alone but undeterred, she worked in a windowless lab to find the formula.

Drug cocktail

In 1995, the pharmacist successfully came up with the world’s first generic ARV, a generic AZT (zidovudine) for HIV that reduces the risk of mother-to-baby HIV transmission.

It was not roses after that. Kraisintu had to face major legal battles to produce the second generic ARV drug (didanosine).

Undaunted, Kraisintu and her team even came up with a drug cocktail known as GPO-VIR, which was 18 times cheaper than the nongeneric AIDS pills.

GPO, Kraisintu is proud to say, produces seven types of ARVs. The production output is enough for a year for 150,000 patients in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kraisintu has left the GPO in able hands in order to further spread the good news of generics elsewhere in the world.

In 2002, she went to the sub-Saharan Africa region, the hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic. In all, 13 African countries have benefited from this bold Asian woman’s efforts.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation notes Kraisintu’s courage amidst obstacles.

She “worked in zones of armed conflict, traveled to remote locations and contended with grossly inadequate facilities. In war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, she set up a pharmaceutical factory that was able to produce generic ARVs after three years,” the foundation says.

In Tanzania, Kraisintu upgraded an old facility to produce not only ARVs but cheap anti-malarial drugs as well. Those who learned under her were not necessarily trained scientists.

“Even drivers could make suppositories,” she notes, adding that administering medicines through suppositories is very effective.

Kraisintu has served as consultant for a nonprofit European organization involved in local production and distribution of medicines in Africa. She is honorary dean of the Faculty of Oriental Medicines in Rangsit University and visiting professor at the Ubon Rajathenne University in Thailand.

She is also visiting professor at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China. She has received numerous awards and honorary degrees.

She has pursued research on and promotion of herbal medicines in modern forms. Early this year, she formed a partnership with the Ubon Rajathanee University and set up a production unit to manufacture traditional herbal products from 78 medicinal plants.

And what can she say about multinational drug companies lording it over poor nations?

“Let’s admit it, we walk in parallel, we will never meet,” she says. “Do you know that despite the recession, the drug companies continue to have the highest profit?”

It’s because people will always need medicines, she explains.


Citing the importance of technology transfer, Kraisintu offers advice regarding production of generic medicines vis-à-vis obstacles from multinationals.

“The government must enforce compulsory licensing of any drug that is patented,” she says. Political will, in other words.

Although she comes from a family of means, the unmarried Kraisintu prefers to live simply. She considers herself a very happy woman.

“I learned to be very patient in Africa,” Kraisintu muses.

She has been called Simba Jike (Swahili for lioness) by East Africans. She laughs heartily and says, “Sometimes they call me Mama Tough.”

More than 400 Khmer Krom families to demonstrate against canal construction plan

By Sok Serey
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer

A source indicated that more than 400 Khmer Krom families living in Krobao district (renamed Tinh Bien by the occupying Vietnamese regime), Motr Chourk province (renamed An Giang by neo-colonialist Vietnam) plan to hold a peaceful demonstration to protest against the plan to built a canal that would lead to the destruction and loss of several hundreds of hectares of their farmlands without any compensation.

Khmer Krom people among these 400 families told RFA over the phone from Krobao district, Motr Chrouk province, occupied Kampuchea Krom that there will be a joint uprising to stop these mechanical engines used to dig the canal: “For tomorrow, we have prepared ourselves, even if they (Viets) want to kill us, we are not afraid! I will go to the canal ditch on my land, I will not let them continue the digging anymore. We ask them to stop [the digging] right now, if they don’t resolve this issue for us, we will not allow them to continue their work, we’d rather die on our farmlands. They are currently digging [the canal], they will dig tomorrow, tomorrow is their main digging operation day. We have gathered from all the villages, we will not allow them to [dig] tomorrow.”

A representative of the group of protesting Khmer Krom people indicated that his family will lose 2 hectares of land from the plan to dig the canal across the rice fields that belong to 400 families: “The International human rights organization said that they will help Khmer Krom people to own lands for farm productions, just like the Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese families now own large tract of lands each, but for our Khmer people, who are the actual owners of our ancestral lands, we lose everything, there’s nothing left.”

A source indicated that a Vietnamese reporter from Prey Nokor city (renamed Ho Chi Minh city by the Vietnamese occupiers) came to investigate the issue with Khmer Krom people living in this area. The reporter asked whether the loss of farmlands was due to the plan to build the canal or not.On Saturday 29 August, the Viet embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached to obtain clarification about the Khmer Krom demonstration planned for 30 August, nobody at the embassy picked up the phone.

Thach Setha, President of the Khmer Krom Community in Cambodia, said that the Viet government should compensate for the damage and loss of these farmlands: “We share the grief of our Khmer Krom people who are facing serious violations from the Yuon authority. We will seek interventions from the international community. At the same time, with the current visit of H.E. Khieu Kanharith in Kampuchea Krom, we are asking him to take a detour to visit [the affected area] and find a resolution for our Khmer people living there.”

A source indicated that the occupying Vietnamese authority in Krobao district, Mortr Chrouk province, occupied Kampuchea Krom, is currently putting in application the plan to dig a 10-km-long by 50-meter-wide canal that will cross the farmlands belonging to 400 Khmer Krom families. This canal will lead to the loss of several hectares of farmlands belonging to Khmer Krom people and no compensation will be provided by this loss.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Let Freedom Ring For Khmer-Krom

By Somalin Thach

I would like to say THANK YOU to our youths who attended the KKFYC 3rd World Conference in Philly for your great support and precious time from the very bottom of my heart. Also THANK YOU to the elders for their warm support with places for us to stay and food for us to eat while we were on our mission at the UNPFII.
Just like our people in our homeland facing oppression due to restrictions of the Vietnamese Government, we here are facing depression due to economic crisis. Everyone is busy trying to make ends meet and trying to over come daily challenges life have set forth for us. I hope these challenges can only bend our feelings and not break our feelings in support of our voiceless people back home in Kampuchea-Krom.I have learned a lot from just participating in the UNPFII this year alone. I learn that there are still great fears that linger around people outside and inside Kampuchea-Krom.
Why fear when we are only doing the things that are right? We only ask for what the Vietnamese Government signed up to become a member of the UN back in 1977 and promised to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. We just want to provide recommendations to help the Vietnamese Government achieve their goals.
On May 28, 2009 at the UNPFII, my tears unexpectedly shed in the middle of delivering the Future Work speech to the UN delegates. Can anyone answer why?
You don’t need to tell me I had already guessed. Your tears would have dropped if you were in my position at that time delivering the truthful speech to the UN and to the Vietnamese Government.
What you need to answer now is: What can we do and how can we help to save our identity from diminishing?It is a fact that we can not open a Khmer school in Kampuchea-Krom. It is a fact that we can not practice our religion like our ancestors did in Kampuchea-Krom. It is a fact that we can not practice our culture. It is NOT a fact that we are not intelligent or a dunce like the Vietnamese government had assumed; it is because we are not given the opportunity to grow, to blossom and to challenge our minds.
In support of our voiceless people in Kampuchea-Krom especially for the women and youths, we need to join hands with KKF and KKFYC to help making our dreams a reality. To merge out of the oppressed condition we are forced to hold within and break free like many other Indigenous peoples around the world.
We deserve our rights. We deserve equality. We are the Indigenous Peoples of the Mekong Delta region. We are the Khmer-Krom people of Kampuchea-Krom. We want to be free! Let Freedom ring for Khmer-Krom!


Rice export yields US$2 billion

As of the end of August, 4.488 million tonnes of rice has been exported, valued at US$1.83 billion in FOB and US$2.05 billion in CIF.

Nguyen Tho Tri, vice chairman of the Vietnam Food Association on August 28 said that as of the end of August local businesses signed contracts to export 5.6 million tones, which leaves 1.144 million tonnes in rice orders to be filled in future.

By August 27, association’s members have purchased 369,459 tonnes of rice, reaching 92.36 percent of the plan.

Chevron wants to be Vietnam’s reliable partner
Chevron Corporation, the second biggest US energy company, wants to become a reliable partner of the Vietnamese Government and people, affirmed the General Director of Chevron Vietnam, Hank Tomlinson.

Mr Tomlinson told the Thoi Bao Tai Chinh Viet Nam (Vietnam Financial Times) reporter that Chevron has implemented its commitment to continue negotiating with the State-owned Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, PetroVietnam, to carry out a US$4 billion natural gas exploitation project.

The project, which will help Chevron become the biggest foreign investor in the nation, will tap gas resources in Blocks B&48/95 and 52/97 in the Gulf of Thailand, offshore southwestern Vietnam for more than 20 years to partly meet the country’s increasing demand for power and energy, he said.

In addition, Chevron is also involved in exploring Block 122 offshore eastern Vietnam but have yet found the commercial reserves, he said.

The Chevron Vietnam leader also said that his corporation has invested in Caltex lubricant trademark and an asphalt plant in the northern port city of Hai Phong. The two products have greatly contributed to Vietnam’s infrastructure construction and socio-economic development, he added.

He went on to say that Chevron, that has been present in Vietnam for a long time, is expected to stay in the nation for around 25 years.

EVN ensures power to fuel development
Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) will exert all efforts to ensure sufficient supply of electricity for the country’s socio-economic development in 2010, said EVN General Director Pham Le Thanh at a working session with the Ministry of Industry and Trade on the plan for 2010 in Hanoi on August 28.

EVN strives for a 13 percent growth in commercial electricity with an output of 81.95 billion kWh. It plans to produce 61.45 billion kWh and purchase 31.92 billion kWh in 2010, representing an annual growth of 13.6 percent.

The group is expected to put into operation seven power plants, 37 electricity grid projects and begin construction of four power plants and several electricity grid projects next year.
It will carry out synchronous measures, including saving electricity, reducing power losses and boosting its output, as well as coordinating with localities to overcome difficulties in accessing capital and site clearance for power projects.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will urge investors to complete large power plants, including Son Dong and Cam Pha, which will supply electricity for the northern region from the dry season of 2009-2010. It also asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Finance Ministry to soon allocate a budget of VND1.78 trillion (nearly US$225 million) to EVN and provide capital from ODA sources to EVN’s projects.

First ethylene gas-carrying vessel launched
The Bach Dang Shipbuilding Industry Company launched a 4,900 DWT ethylene gas-carrying vessel, the first of its kind, in the northern port city of Hai Phong on August 28.

The King Arthur vessel, 104m long, 16.4m wide, 8.4m high and capable of carrying 4,500 cubic metres of ethylene gas, was built under a contract with the Italian Mediterranea Di Navigazione Company.

The Bach Dang Shipbuilding Industry Company has successfully built various kinds of vessels which have capacities ranging from 6,500 to 22,500 tonnes and containers from 610 to 1,700 TEU.

The same day, the company also started to build a second ethylene gas-carrying vessel and plan to build a third with the same capacity.

Fair encourages Vietnamese to use local products
A trade fair under the theme “Vietnamese youths and young businesses stand by Vietnamese goods” opened in Hanoi on August 28.

200 participating businesses have put up over 300 stands to promote their trademarks in various fields, ranging from finance to the oil and gas industry, tourism, jewellery, information technology, school equipment, building, mechanical engineering, electric and electronic appliances, stationery, textiles and garments and food.

The fair is in response to the domestic trade promotion campaigns called “Vietnamese give priority to consuming Vietnamese commodities” and “Vietnamese youths stand by Vietnamese goods” launched by the Vietnam Youth Union Association.

Businesses joining the campaigns will enjoy numerous benefits, including promoting their trademarks and products to consumers, receiving support and gaining access to information about domestic and international markets.

The fair opens until the National Day (September 2).

Declining blue chips torpedo gains
Continued mixed trading kept the VN-Index largely unchanged on August 27, ending the day’s session up just 0.21 percent at 527 points.

Blue chips FPT, PetroVietnam Finance (PVF) and Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Corp (REE) all closed unchanged and let the market to marginal overall gains despite advancers outnumbering decliners by 98 to 38.

Volume declined 8 percent from August 26 to 47.7 million shares, worth a combined VND1.9 trillion (US$106.7 million). Sacombank (STB) led the market with 3.6 million shares traded, or 7 percent of the total volume. On the Hanoi Stock Exchange on August 27, the HNX-Index closed off just 0.16 percent to 164.13 points, on a poor performance by major stocks including Bao Viet Securities (BVS, Petroleum Technical Services Corp (PVS) and PetroVietnam Insurance (PVI).

The value of the day’s trades reached VND940.4 billion (US$52.8 million) on a volume of 27.3 million shares, while Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) regained its position as the most active share with 2.6 million changing hands, followed closely by Vinaconex Group (VCG) with 2.5 million.
Vietnam International Securities Co analysts said that investors interest on August 27 returned to small shares in such areas as construction materials, marine transport, energy and minerals, and education, after concentrating on major stocks during the previous two sessions.

Can Tho calls for investment in industry, infrastructure
The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho is calling upon domestic and foreign investors to get involved in 18 projects in five sectors:
including industry, trade, transport, urban infrastructure and tourism, according to a conference to promote investment in Can Tho City on August 28.

The event was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Planning and Investment and Industry and Trade as well as domestic companies and potential investors from Japan, the US, Indonesia and Singapore.

Can Tho plans to develop six urban areas, including the Ninh Kieu-Binh Thuy centre, Cai Rang port, Binh Thuy-O Mon industrial zone, the O Mon hi-tech zone, Thot Not industrial and service park and Phong Dien eco-tourism resort by 2020.

The city needs to upgrade its transport infrastructure including national highways 1A, 91, 91B, 80, the Ho Chi Minh City-Can Tho, Vi Thanh-Can Tho and Bon Tong-Mot Ngan expressways, the HCM City-Can Tho railway, Can Tho port complex and Tra Noc Airport.

Situated in the centre of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho City boasts an annual GDP growth of 15.6 percent and a per-capita income of US$1,444, the highest level in the region. It contributes 10.9 percent of the whole region’s GDP.

PetroVietnam, Russia’s oil company ink new deals
The Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and Russia’s OAO Zarubezhneft Company signed a number of cooperation agreements on August 28.

The deals include a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to consider Zarubezhneft’s participation in developing some lots on the continental shelf offshore Vietnam.

Zarubezhneft also signed with PetroVietnam’s subsidiary, PetroVietnam Exploration and Production Corporation (PVEP), an MoU to ask permission for oil and gas exploration and exploitation in a contracted deep-water area off the shore of Cuba.

The Rusvietpetro joint venture company and the PetroVietnam Insurance Joint Stock Company (PVI) signed an insurance contract for an oil drilling project in Russia’s Nenevski Municipality, with the participation of large oil and gas groups from Russia and other countries.

With the contract, PVI becomes the first Vietnamese non-life insurance company to join an overseas project.

Addressing the signing ceremony, PetroVietnam Director General Phung Dinh Thuc said Zarubezhneft is a long-term partner which has made important contributions to Vietnam’s economic development. He said the two sides have cooperated since 1991 and exploited 180 million tonnes of crude oil from Bach Ho (White Tiger) and Rong (Dragon) fields.

Construction begins on north’s largest eco-urban area
Construction of the Eco-Park urban area in Van Giang district in the northern province of Hung Yen began on August 28.

As the main investor in the project, the Viet Hung Urban Development and Investment Joint Stock Company (Vihajco) has a total investment capital of US$8.2 billion.

Covering an area of 500ha next to Bat Trang Ceramic Village (around 12 km east of Hanoi), the Eco-Park urban area includes modern villas and houses, trade and shopping centres, a gym, an entertainment complex, ancient streets, international schools and hospitals.

Vietnam ramps up investment in Laos, Cambodia
Vietnam has become one of the leading investors in the Southeast Asian countries of Laos and Cambodia.

A recent issue of Laos’ Economic and Social newspaper reported that foreign projects in Laos, especially those of Vietnam, have contributed to the Lao economy and have improved the lives of Lao clan members.

Vietnam ranks third among the 32 countries that invest in Laos, according to the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment. Statistics through June showed that the Lao government had licensed 186 Vietnamese projects at a total capitalization of more than US$2 billion. These projects are mainly in four areas: electric power, mining, agriculture and services.

Vietnamese businesses are constantly expanding their operations in Cambodia. Local experts believe that Vietnam is likely to surpass China, the Republic of Korea and Russia to become the largest investor in Cambodia in 2009, thanks to a surge in Vietnam’s investment in the past eight months.

The President of the Cambodian Economic Association, Chan Sophal, said that with great untapped potential, Cambodia is now an attractive destination for Vietnamese investors.
Vietnam and Cambodia have signed a total of 13 new joint venture contracts worth nearly US$500 million since early July.


Heroes put lives of others first

August 30, 2009

To the Editor:

In the news, we hear of a war hero, a soldier whose life was given for freedom — ours or someone else’s. It made me think of other heroes here in our city and in cities across our great nation: our police and firefighters.

These men and women give their all, risking their lives to protect us each day. And add to the hero list our returning veterans and current enlistees who serve and protect fellow soldiers. There are many heroes in our land.

I was with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam and Cambodia. I am a proud Vietnam veteran. During the war, I sadly witnessed many other heroes our country never heard of; the guys, myself included, who went into the battlefield to pick up the dead or wounded with enemy fire all around.

As a unit, it was understood that we helped each other and stuck together. It was with respect that we carried the wounded to receive medical attention, or the dead so that their bodies could be returned to their families. Leaving them was not an option.

There are many heroes of war and heroes in peace. I define “hero’’ as a person who risks their precious life for that of another — a stranger.

I was one of the fortunate ones to return to this beautiful country, and for that I am very grateful even today. I risked my life for my country, and I am proud to have done so, because freedom is not free.

Jose C. Juarez

Cambodia halves troop numbers at border temple: ministry


PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia has halved the number of troops around an ancient border temple that has been the scene of bloody clashes with Thailand, the defence ministry said Sunday.

There have been several skirmishes between the two countries on the disputed frontier around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia since the ruins were granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

"We have pulled out 50 percent of the troops from Preah Vihear temple," said Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence.

"This shows that the situation at the border is really getting better, and that both countries have a mutual understanding of peace," he added.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last week said Thailand had just 30 soldiers on the border, meaning that Cambodia could stand some troops down and send them back to their provincial bases.

"We still have enough troops remaining to protect our territory," said General Chea Dara, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

He said if Thailand "shows a softer manner" they could cut the numbers further. "However, if anything happened, our troop mobility would be very swift," he told AFP.

Thailand in June reignited the row over the temple when it asked world heritage body UNESCO to reconsider its decision to formally list the temple in Cambodia.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance to the ancient Khmer temple with its crumbling stone staircases and elegant carvings is in northeastern Thailand.

The last gunbattle in the temple area in April left three people dead while clashes there in 2008 killed another four people.

The border between the two countries has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. AFP

Eye for an Eye

Posted: Aug 30, 2009
Irena Akbar

When you walk up the stairs to the clinic of eye surgeon Dr Navin Sakhuja in Delhi’s Golf Links it is impossible to ignore framed pictures of leopards and images of waves crashing off the coast in South Africa. You would even spot a tomb in the middle of Lodhi Gardens. And when you finally enter his consultation room, there is a wide-angle shot of the Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh adorning the wall.

“Ophthalmology is my first passion and shall always be.

Photography is something I do when I have time,” smiles the doctor. He has been shooting since 1989 and has over 10,000 images. Sakhuja has already held two exhibitions, with the third one on till Tuesday at the Gallerie Romain Rolland at Alliance Francaise. He took part in a group show called “Colours of Life” for which he shot a dozen images of six varieties of butterflies in the lawn of his home.

His current show, “In Search of a Greater God”, had him travel to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar for a week, where from 4 am to 8 pm he would capture ruins of temples. In one striking image on display, a colossal, withered tree trunk is almost gripping the Ta Prom temple. “It’s a paradox. The tree is crushing the temple with its weight and yet, without its support, the old temple would crumble,” says Sakhuja, who explains the history behind the picture with the zeal of an archaeologist.

A huge 5 ft by 4 ft frame of the silhouette of a stupa and orange-blue hues of dawn in the background is another interesting picture. “It is the Dhammanayangi temple that King Nartahu built to get over the guilt of murdering his father. He visited the temple every week and if he found an error, he would get the labourers murdered,” explains Sakhuja, about the gruesome history of Bagan and Angkor Wat.

As patients begin tricking in at his clinic, Sakhuja wants to wrap up talking about his pictures. “Were it not for ophthalmology, I would probably not comprehend the importance of colour perception, light and image. It’s when I look at people with vision problems that my commitment to capturing this beautiful world on camera becomes stronger,” he says.

Qatari Diar launches key project

Posted on » Sunday, August 30, 2009
Posted on: Gulf Daily News

DUBAI: State-owned investment firm Qatari Diar has launched a luxury real estate project in Tajikistan worth at least $150 million, reports said yesterday.

The Dushanbe Diar project in the Tajik capital Dushanbe will include residential towers, a five-star hotel, shopping malls, conference centres and gardens when finished in 2012 at a cost of between $150m and $180m, the Qatari News Agency said.

The project is Qatari Diar's first in Central Asia. The unit of the Gulf country's sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority has said it might delay plans to invest in Asian countries such as China, Vietnam and Cambodia because of the global financial crisis.

The Dushanbe Diar project was launched on Friday at a ceremony in Dushanbe with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon and Qatari Diar chief executive Ghanim bin Saad Al Kawari.

AL Kawari said Qatari Diar would look into possible further investments in the Tajik agriculture and education sectors, the state news agency said.

He told reporters the firm's total investments around the world were around $60 billion in 35 countries.

It was not clear if this figure included investments in Qatar.

The man who eats guests for Breakfast

August 30, 2009

CHRIS SKELTON/Sunday Star-Times
TOP RATER: Paul Henry and Alison Mau's Breakfast has out-rated the competition but drawn numerous complaints.

It's 7.45am last Wednesday, and a dishevelled stranger sits in TVNZ reception, staring at two giant flat screens.

He mutters something about catching a bus. Then wanders out, aimlessly.

"Haven't had one of those in a while," says the receptionist. "Weirdos." He laughs. "Must be a fan of Paul Henry's."

The Breakfast presenter the country loves to loathe couldn't have ad-libbed it better.

Paul Henry would deny that, of course. Because Paul Henry does everything better than anyone else. Listening to Paul Henry on Paul Henry is like going to the toilet in a stranger's house and stumbling on a list of self-improvement affirmations taped to the bathroom mirror.

"I must be enormously clever to have got to where I am now," he says.

"How do I judge myself at the moment? I'm not operating on my full level. I'm not as good as I could be. But I'm better than anyone else.

"Actually, it's funny when I say I'm not as good as I could be, because it's a lot of television, two- and-a-half hours a day, five days a week, at those hours. So, maybe actually, I am as good as I could be."

If success is measured by Broadcasting Standards Authority complaints, then Henry is a media superstar.

The Sunday Star-Times had exclusive access to the Breakfast studio on Wednesday last week when the Authority released the findings of the furore the media dubbed "moustache-gate".

Back in March, Greenpeace's Stephanie Mills appeared on the show to discuss compensation for people suffering the health effects of nuclear testing. In a viewer feedback segment, Henry read out emails commenting on the guest's facial hair.

"There's people noticing things," said Henry. "I noticed as well, and thought, that is a moustache on a lady."

In its decision, the Authority found Henry had breached fairness standards, but believed subsequent action by TVNZ, including an apology to Mills, was appropriate and it did not uphold the formal complaint.

Henry would just like to clarify something. "I didn't apologise for saying it. And I wouldn't want anyone to think that I did ... I would never apologise for that comment, because at the end of the day, I was saying what my eyes were seeing. And if the TV audience is sitting at home saying, 'my God, there's a woman with a moustache' - you know, why should I be too frightened, too paralysed with fear, to say 'oh my God, there is a woman with a moustache'?"

Err - because it was rude and insulting? "There was no intention to cause personal offence. So I'm more than happy to say sorry for causing personal offence, and indeed I did. I phoned her up. Her, personally, is the only thing that's important.

"These wowsers that complain are just people who have too much time on their hands, and who have the very fortunate lives that the biggest thing for them to worry about is something I've said about facial hair on a woman in the morning. To those people, I have nothing to say."

Which might be a first. Because Henry, 49, is not usually short on words.

"I have opinions on everything," he agrees. "I've had people say to me in the past, 'Paul, do you have an opinion on everything?' Well, yes. People should have opinions on everything. I'm not dead yet."
The problem, he says, is that when people ask questions, he answers them. Really answers them.

"You think, do I have the heartbeats to answer it? Is there enough room in my life for the answer to this question? And if the answer to that is yes, then you should answer it properly."
It's no secret that when Paul Holmes left the TVNZ 7pm slot, Henry thought he should get the Close Up job that went to Mark Sainsbury. Does he still want it?

"To be honest, less now than I once did. The fact is, I really wanted it. I know I am the best person for the job. But you can't hold onto something like that. So I fill in. I've been filling in for years, since before Mark Sainsbury got the job. I should have got the job when he wanted the job. I firmly believe that."

If the spot became vacant, "I would expect to get it. Do I want the job? I suppose I'm just being overly generous with the truth. I could have just said yes, because yes I do. The full answer is yes, I do. But I'm not as hungry for it as I was."

There is more. Much more. This is, perhaps, what television reviewer Jane Bowron means when she refers to Henry as "TV One's petrol-headed motormouth perpetually in top gear ... well known for his outrage-isms, Henry is like the little boy who has no filter and delights in loudly mentioning any elephant unfortunate enough to wander into his room".

Nothing is sacred. The morning we visit the studio, he uses the expression "donkey deep" on air. A viewer wonders about the etymology. Maybe, muses Henry, it is derived from the days when donkeys pulled carts through muddy roads. "Did you just make that up?" asks co-host Alison Mau. "Because it's brilliant."

Unfortunately for Mau, during the break, Henry is handed an actual definition from the urban dictionary. He is gleeful, delighted, like a small boy who has just discovered the word "poo". He faces the camera and tells his audience the expression refers to (drum roll) a donkey's HUGE member.

Later, seconds before Paula Ryan goes live to tell viewers what not to wear while holidaying in Muslim countries, Henry leans across to the fashion doyenne: "Did you know that? About a donkey's cock?"

PAUL HENRY WAS born in 1960. He grew up in Howick, but moved to England with his English-born mother when he was 11.

His parents had separated, "but it was one of those bizarre ones where if you asked me to pin down exactly when the separation happened, it would be hard to know".

"It was just one of those things where he was at home less and less and less. And then he had another partner and then he was never at home. His work was very important to him, and it worries me, you know, that aspects of my life have reflected that."

Henry has three daughters: "They have never ever had a period in their life where they haven't known that I painfully love them and would do anything for them and would absolutely die for them."

Gossip columns have devoted inches to an alleged relationship with businesswoman Diane Foreman and an alleged engagement to Linzi Dryburgh.

He won't talk about either. "Because it is none of anyone's business."

A screed of press clippings and women's magazine articles fill in the blanks about life, post-New Zealand childhood. His mother was poor. She worked treble shifts in a plastic bag factory, they lived in a dreadful council flat in Bristol, he wanted to be an actor and won a scholarship to study drama: "But I couldn't, I needed money, I didn't want my mother ... she'd done enough in her life to battle for me."

A studio assistant's job at BBC radio led to a mail room job at BBC TV. "That was brilliant. That's like the actor who works in the right restaurant, because the right people are coming in. I was visiting every single office, three times a day, I was getting to know the people, finding out where were the vacancies, where were the openings."

He worked as a projectionist in the natural history unit. David Attenborough would come in and Henry would play the rushes. "It was very cool."

He came back to New Zealand for the proverbial better life, aged 19. He worked for Radio New Zealand, briefly owned his own commercial radio station out of Carterton and stood for parliament on the National Party ticket, losing to Georgina Beyer. He worked for Radio Pacific, where he became a foreign correspondent.

There is probably a book in those years. Here's a 1998 North & South summary: "He's been detained in Iraq, shot at in Cambodia, nearly lynched in the slums of Calcutta, threatened by the French navy at Mururoa and shelled in Bosnia."

Last week, in the lobby of the SkyCity Grand Hotel, sipping spirulina under Karl Maughan's hyper-real garden paintings, he says: "Some of the things I did were very dangerous and that's why I stopped."

In Cambodia, down a muddy track, "in front of the cannons and heading towards the most heinous killers" he met another journalist. "He knelt down in front of me and felt my legs and said 'I will be the last person to ever feel your legs'."

The area, says Henry, was heavily mined. "I went round a few extra corners. What actually happened was I saved the lives of 21 people, because I went further than him and there was a gathering of people who were definitely going to be killed, women and children . . . "

Ahead of Henry, the jungle was crawling with fighters. "It became obvious the opportunity to get to whoever was running the show was not going to exist. That the people surrounding that person would kill you first. So we got out, and on the way back, we took all those people we found on the back of our ute with us."

Those moments, says Henry, "You die for them sometimes, but to live them ... "

HENRY HAS been with the Breakfast programme for five years, consistently out-rating TV3's Sunrise. He's in contention for the Qantas Film and Television Awards best news or current affairs presenter, against Fair Go's Kevin Milne and One News' Andrew Saville, announced on Saturday.

"I should win, shouldn't I? There's something wrong if I don't. It'll be political if I don't."
Last week, the Broadcasting Standards Authority confirmed that in the past two years, it has dealt with 13 complaints involving Paul Henry.

"Good broadcasting is on the edge," says Henry. "If you're not receiving complaints, you're not on the edge . . . all right, so that [figure] is probably knocking on the high side. I don't know if anyone else has achieved that, but I'll tell you what, I wear that as a badge of honour."

He was surprised, he admits, that Mills was "cool" on the phone, when he called about the facial hair comment. "And I wonder, actually, you know, here's the interesting thing. How much of her angst over it was as a result of what I said, or as a result of the reaction to what I said?"

Does anyone hold Paul Henry, self- described "famous A-lister", in check?

"No one really. And perhaps ... that is where I come perilously close to a lack of professionalism. It's that whole taking guidance thing. I think I know better than the people that guide me.
Actually, if I was entirely honest with you, I know I know better than the people that guide me."
Henry doesn't think he has an ego.

"And when I say that, everyone must have an ego. It's like everyone is a racist. It's just a question of degrees. It's like everyone can play the piano."

Everyone is racist? "Well, name someone who isn't ... you walk on a bus, there are three seats available next to three different kinds of people. How do you make your choice?"

It's no use asking Henry what he'd do, because this is a hypothetical rant, and "I don't know who those three people are". Also, it's unlikely he'd be on a bus. "I hate buses. Hate public transport. I hate taxis. I hate thinking that other people's arses have slid over the seat that I'm about to slide on. I hate so many things."

Top five? "They would rotate." And then, "I hate crowds." And stupid people. And sameness and tedium.

"I like things that are interesting and people that are interesting or even people that think interesting thoughts. The worst thing in the world would be to have a long, boring life. That would be much worse than a short boring life.

"I've moved past the ability to have a short life."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

COMMENTARY: Sitting Down With Our Enemies (Yes, Even al-Qaeda)

By Nicholas Patler
Special to

It’s no earth-shattering news—and no surprise—that the war in Afghanistan is going badly. So far in 2009, eight years after the war began, civilian death and suffering has risen dramatically, the Taliban has remained intact, Osama bin Laden has not been killed or emerged from a cave holding a white flag with al-Qaeda in tow and one of the poorest countries in the world has gotten poorer from the destruction caused by the deadliest military might on the planet.

To make matters worse, the Afghanis are getting tired of us being there—downright angry to be more accurate—and a growing number of Americans and British feel that the war is not worth fighting. And while the richest nation in the world makes one of the poorest poorer, increasing numbers of U.S. troops, young boys mostly, continue to get blown up, crippled for life or suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.

One would think that all of this would be a sure sign that perhaps we should rethink the war in Afghanistan. Rethink meaning here not just bringing our young people home but also to rise above the muck after eight futile years and find new ways of doing things.

Instead, one of the most eloquent and visionary presidents of the last half-century, Barrack Obama, is pushing twenty thousand more kids through the bloody meat grinder of war, bringing the total to over fifty-thousand. What will happen next is not rocket science. This troop increase means an increase in firepower and destruction, leading to further deterioration of relations with the Afghani people not to mention the Pakistanis who are mad as heck about the cross-border attacks and bombings in their country.

Our troop increase is also a boost to the successful membership drive for groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which means more enemies for the U.S., which has always been the case since the beginning of the so-called war on terror.

And what about this nebulous reference “war on terror?” Terror is not a country, government or conventional army, so who in sam-hell do we think is going to surrender? Indeed, terrorism turns conventional war logic on its head. The more you use conventional force against those who use this tactic, the stronger and more emboldened they become. They are extraordinarily mobile, diffused and can thrive in just about any hiding place imaginable. They have no national resources, communities and homes to protect or preserve, which might encourage a more conventional enemy to surrender.

President Obama is an exceptionally bright man who must be acutely aware of this conundrum. So why in the heck is he beefing up our forces to fight a war that cannot be won? Two words: American prestige—which can be summed up in one word: pride. Pride is the unacknowledged driving force behind most U.S. wars and foreign policy, which every president gets sucked into like a dark vortex. We have done atrocious things just so we could maintain an inkling of that sacred pride-based American prestige in front of the world.

For example, we have literally dumped millions of tons of bombs on human beings and their communities—Vietnam, Cambodia and Iraq, to name a few—in an attempt to squeeze out a victory at all ungodly costs so that American prestige could be preserved. And once we were in other lands, such as Afghanistan today, it does not matter if our actions create an apocalyptic wasteland, we will keep the war machine thundering on until we are convinced that our image as the premier superpower is, if not preserved in tact, at least not tarnished too badly.

The only thing I know of that can free us from such destructive, misery-producing pride is a little—no—a lot of humility. Humility is almost always overlooked as a form of power that has the potential for releasing reservoirs of creativity in human affairs that pride restricts and blocks. And if we can humble ourselves enough perhaps we can see clearly enough to consider sitting down with our enemies. Yes, this means even sitting down with those we have labeled as terrorists such as Hamas, Hezbollah—and even al-Qaeda.

For the most part, this must produce a similar feeling as sharp fingernails sliding across a chalk board. For others, the thought of sitting down with extremist groups is morally repugnant and makes them mad as hell. It seems to violate every instinct in our American-pride-being. But since our violent approach to terror in Afghanistan makes the world more unstable and dangerous, increasing America’s enemies while killing its children with no end—and I mean no end—in sight, then perhaps we should try a revolutionary approach to engaging our enemies, like talking to them, even the ones we have removed from the pale of humanity. (By the way, this is only revolutionary within a political context since the best of our religious traditions has for eons stressed this course of action. With that in mind, Muhammad’s affirmation of an essential oneness and unity of all life could function, perhaps through Muslim intermediaries, as a call to the table).

Of course, this is easier said than done. But there has been a little progress, or potential progress, made here already. In the 2008 campaign, President Obama stated unabashedly that America should be willing to negotiate with its adversaries.

Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs, revealed in a special post-election edition of Time that a majority of senior diplomats, from Carter to Bush, believe that “we should talk to difficult adversaries.” But let us be clear here: for them adversaries are leaders like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or North Korea’s Kim Jong-il. President Obama still wants to “kill bin Laden” and Burns emphasized that “we should have absolutely no interest in sitting down with Qaeda fanatics or the Taliban leadership.”

So while they are inching us in the right direction, I want to suggest that we can go even further. While most Americans would never approve of their leaders sitting down with extremist groups, not within our current political-ideological framework, perhaps we can begin to change the way we structure our language and in the process change the way we think. This could be done by re-conceptualizing and redefining our political language in a way that would accommodate engaging this new enemy through some form of creative diplomacy. While the thrust and momentum for this transformation must come from outside of the political system—moved forward by all of us who are inspired to lend our voices and talents—the best chance for success—though not the only chance— would be for President Obama to exert his persuasive leadership here with courage and conviction.

This would require the president using his powers of persuasion (and global standing) to turn our conditioned understanding and definitions of words such as prestige, pride, power, strength and courage on their head within a political context. True to the all-American John Wayne bravado, we have for so long associated and made these words synonymous with military force and heavy handed threat and punishment diplomacy. Genuine people to people diplomacy on the other hand, particularly with people whom we have decided we don’t like, has often been portrayed as weak, naïve, dangerous and below America, as we heard from Senator John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin during the 2008 election.

However, President Obama, along with his diplomatic team, could begin to recast these words within the realm of political discourse. Proposed talks with America’s most egregious enemies could be presented as acting boldly with courage to stop escalating violence and create a safer world for all of us. The president could be honest—and stress that he is being honest—by explaining that our current approach to the war in Afghanistan is one that will go on indefinitely and cost enormous human and material resources while making the world less safe. He could emphasize that now is the time to have the courage to do what we might not like to do so that our children and grandchildren will not inherit anymore of these terrible, self-perpetuating mistakes. He could make it clear that the U.S. is using its strength, power and prestige to take a new course of action that may be unfamiliar (and unpopular) at home but that would ultimately be in the best interests for our nation and the world.

In one way, at least, embarking on a relationship with those whom we consider as “reprehensible” is really nothing new. We have supported leaders and factions that were committing terror and atrocities against their own populations when it was in our interest to do so. So perhaps now instead of a terribly reckless and negative support we can engage our enemies in an effort to work towards the positive and noble goal of true peace.

President Obama could even heighten the level of understanding beyond anything we have heard on mainstream news networks by explaining that while terror tactics are reprehensible, they have often been a response to our own egregious actions in the Middle East. He essentially admitted as much when on a recent visit to Cairo he humbly apologized for the legacy of U.S./Western actions in the Islamic world “that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims …without regard to their own aspirations”—the first sitting American president to do so. This is the major grievance of Osama bin Laden and others who feel they have had no conventional political means to express their discontent. While transforming our language to help us make this difficult transition to conceptualizing sitting down with our enemies, perhaps we could begin to make moves for transforming U.S foreign policy in general. Language here presents a barrier as well. We are very overt within our political discourse in always saying that we are doing this and that to serve American interests, sending an implicit message to other nations and peoples that their interests are simply less important and could be infringed upon if it is in our interests to do so (which we have certainly done).

Even the most progressive and visionary foreign policy thinkers today, such as Nicholas Burns, Samantha Power and Robert McNamara, while stressing the necessity of transcending old ways of dong things, still speak in the same old paradigm language such as “defending our interests” or using our “influence …to get what we want,” which they seem to express reflexively. What I would like to suggest instead is that we begin to restructure our language and intent to treat the interests of others as equal to our own.

Only by taking such bold steps to transform foreign policy and break out of the cage of selfish Machiavellian language and politics, rather than just a little shuffle in the same old paradigm, can we ever expect to reduce suspicion and gain the trust of the world so that together as equals we can find solutions to problems that impact us all such as war and climate change. And rather than treating human beings as pawns in a chess game, perhaps we can begin to consider their humanity—not oil or whatever else—as the highest end value, and begin from there. Foreign policy, in other words, should be seen as means for seeking a better world and for uplifting all life, rather than a game where every move is a strategy to benefit only one group of people at the expense of all others.

And I believe that sitting down with our contemporary enemies, no matter how repugnant it may seem, is the only chance that we may have of reducing conflict, averting potential regional and even global disaster, stabilizing the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and procuring a lasting peace. Violence will only create more violence and instability, as we see it doing today.

Perhaps by treating our worst enemies like human beings—recognizing something of value within them—they will then consider the democratic norms in which we value. But we must first be humble enough to use our hearts and imaginations to question the everyday assumptions that we have been conditioned to accept as the only reality—that is, our unquestioned belief that our only option is to wage all out war against an implacable enemy. This will not work, much less so today than even in the past. Thus, far from strength, it betrays an intrinsic weakness or limitation that we tragically fail to recognize. Strength and courage, on the other hand, lies in dong what we assume is impossible, but which if we are bold enough to give it a try, may very well transform this conflict and our world.

It is time to defy all of our political logic, transform and expand its meaning and application, and to humbly sit down with our enemies.

* * * Staunton, Va. author Nicholas Patler is a biographer and historian and a contributor to Use the search engine on the Huntington site to read other commentaries by Patler.

Vietnamese are also discriminated, How about other Ethnics?

Schools Reject AIDS Children

Treatment and schooling are scarce for the estimated 60,000 HIV-positive children in Ho Chi Minh City.

(AFP) HIV-positive children play at a kindergarten in Hatay, near Hanoi, Vietnam, March 21, 2006.

BANGKOK—More than a dozen children living with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City have been sent home on their first day of elementary school after other children's parents staged an angry protest at the gates.

The children, who live at the charity-run Mai Hoa Center in the northern industrial suburb of Cu Chi, were forced to return home from the An Nhon Dong Elementary School.

"It’s better to stop our children’s schooling than to let them sit next to AIDS-infected children," one parent at the scene of the protests said.

Officials told local media the government had a policy of nondiscrimination against HIV-infected children in schools.

They added they had to make several requests for the Mai Hoa Center children's documentation to be processed before they were finally admitted.

But on their first day, they were sent home again.

"When our children came home from school, they were so upset," said Sister Diem at the Mai Hoa Center, which is run by the Vietnamese Catholic Church. "They wept bitterly. Several of them stopped eating their meals."

She said the nuns had decided for the time being to continue the children's education at the center, though the children themselves want to go to a public school like their peers.

‘Scared’ by protest

Another Mai Hoa nun, Sister Bao, said the children asked her: "Why are our classmates’ parents angry with us? Why don’t they let us go to school? What’s wrong with us?”

"We are quite healthy, neat, and clean. We have been taught very well how not to infect our school mates, but their parents scared us this morning," she said.

The news that the Mai Hoa children were to attend An Nhon prompted the withdrawal of 85 percent of applications for the new academic year, school officials said.

Common problem

The angry scenes in Cu Chi highlight a widespread problem within Vietnam facing people who live with HIV.

Elsewhere in Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Thi Nguyet, leader of Thu Duc District's Morning Sun Team HIV/AIDS community education group said that it is common for HIV-infected children to submit school registration applications several times before being admitted.

"Several schools admitted them. However, when they found out that the children’s parents had died of AIDS, they immediately returned them [home]," Nguyet said.

She said some parents had lied about their child's health status to get them into school.

And in Tam Binh district, Tran Thi Thu Tram said that 22 HIV-infected children at a home under her care currently attendelementary school.

‘I won’t live long’

"Almost all these children have good academic records and good conduct. However, the parents of other children still have a very discriminatory attitude to them," she said.

One seven-year-old HIV-infected child from Dong Nai, known as Little Vinh, said: "I know that I won’t live long. Please let me go to school normally like other children of my age. I promise I’ll not let my infection spread to anybody."

Municipal AIDS prevention official Le Truong Giang said HIV-infected children have the right to attend public schools."Regrettably, a number of parents don’t agree that their children should attend school alongside children with HIV."

He called for an end to community discrimination.

Hard to spread HIV

"Only the mutual and common accord of the people in the community will prevent these sick children from dying from discrimination before they even feel the pain of this disease," Giang added.

He reminded parents that HIV could not be spread between schoolchildren.

Tam Binh Orphanage director Nguyen Van Trung agreed."It is a great pity that several children are of school age.

They should have had the chance to go to school," he said."They must be amazed by the sad fact that schools have refused to admit them. Adults usually dare not tell the exact reason why they are discriminated against," Trung said.

Around 60,000 children are believed to be living with HIV in Ho Chi Minh City alone, according to statistics from the municipal Committee for the Prevention and Treatment of AIDS.

Only seven percent of these children are cared for by specialist centers such as Mai Hoa, which was set up to care for the growing number of people dying of AIDS on city streets.

Original reporting in Vietnamese by Quynh Nhu. Vietnamese service director: Diem Nguyen. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

The Sequence

August 29, 2009
by J. R. Nyquist

T he military power with the best tanks, aircraft and ships doesn't always win a battle. Wars may be decided by many factors, including non-military factors. For example, a military confrontation may be decided beforehand when a society gradually turns to recreational drug use; or when the work ethic collapses; or a significant segment of the society unwittingly adopts the enemy's ideology; or the political elite of the country shows itself to be corrupt and contemptuous of the public.

The United States has been a great and stable power for many decades. One should never, on that account, assume the invincibility of the U.S. The American superpower has been strategically mismanaged for half a century. During the Cold War the U.S. suffered outright defeats in Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. With the end of the Cold War came major Communist advances in South Africa (1994), Congo (1997), Angola (2002), Venezuela (1999), Brazil (2002), Bolivia (2006), and Nicaragua (2006).

What is not understood, is that the Communist movement in general, being a fifth column instrument of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, became even more effective after the fall of the Soviet Union. As it happens, people react to words like "Communism" in a negative way.

Therefore, from the point of view of strategy, it is better to dispense with the word "Communist" and use another word.

The battle for what used to be called "Communism" is today a battle for so-called "social justice." The advocates in this battle are "caring individuals," who claim to represent the poor and the working class. Theirs is an ongoing struggle, and is fought on many fronts, especially inside the United States. The reason for accelerating their campaign within America is important to understand: The United States is the only military power, and the only economic power, strong enough to block the advance of Moscow and Beijing. During the Cold War, the Americans blocked these countries from advancing in many areas, including Africa, Southeast Asia, Korea, Taiwan, Iran, Germany, and Central America. Even the Communist victories in Southeast Asia and Africa were hardfought, and largely won through psychological warfare and propaganda. On the battlefield, America remained dominant.

Given the obstacle presented, how could the Communist Bloc overcome America's military power?

Very simply, when one side in a global contest appears to give up, the psychological impact is enormous. Organize the collapse of Communism from the Kremlin itself and nobody in the West will question it. If the Communists are giving up power, it is all good. But look at Russia and Eastern Europe today. By giving up untenable positions in Germany and the Baltic States, the remainder is yet dominated by agent networks and mafias aligned with Moscow. In Ukraine, for example, there is a pro-NATO president whose power has been undermined by a prime minister who works for Moscow. In Georgia, the Russian troops press in while operations continue to unseat the pro-American president. In Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania old Communist structures dominate business and government. Despite their entry into NATO, some of these countries may be described as nests of spies and infiltrators whose mission has been to sabotage NATO from within. This is not simply conjecture, but the conclusion drawn by the best-informed political activists and researchers in Eastern Europe.

The supposed Cold War victory of the West opened Europe to infection by Moscow's clandestine armies. Already the Left formed a fifth column in Western Europe. But these political forces were to be augmented by economic interpenetration, energy dependence, and more.

Because of its advanced weaponry, the United States cannot be easily defeated in a war. But wars are won or lost before they reach the point of outright military clashes. The order of battle in the next world war is not merely a list of divisions or nuclear rocket regiments. This order of battle chiefly consists in assets that include banks, major corporations, non-government organizations (NGOs), environmentalists, peace activists, drug cartels, organized crime syndicates, and the left wing of the Democratic Party, which the Communists targeted for infiltration more than 30 years ago.

In advance of any military campaign relying on tank divisions and nuclear rocket regiments, it is necessary to soften the United States through a series of clandestine and subversive moves:

first, there was the use of narcotics trafficking as a weapon, which began in 1960. Prior to that, there was the infiltration of organized crime, the penetration of U.S. banks, and the introduction of the Peaceful Coexistence Struggle by Nikita Khrushchev. For those interested in the details of this, please refer to a book titled Red Cocaine, by Joseph D. Douglass. (It is based on the testimony of one of the highest-level Communsit defectors of all time, Jan Sejna.)

The campaign involves the use of economic weapons, as well as educational weapons. Every civilization nourishes within itself various cults opposed to its values. That is basically what "Communism" represents. The specifics of ideology are unimportant, for what is represented is essentially anti-capitalism, anti-Christianity, anti-Western civilization. It can change its name, it rhetoric, its tactics, but the movement in opposition to civilization remains essentially the same in its determination to destroy what presently exists. Taking this into account, take a good look around and re-examine the former Cold War battlefield. Note the changes around the globe, and the changes in Washington.

What do you think has been happening over the last 20 years?

Robert Chandler has written a book titled Shadow World: Resurgent Russia, the Global New Left, and Radical Islam. What is valuable in Chandler's work relates to his firsthand interactions with Leftist organizers in the United States. According to Chandler, there is a vast network in America that aims to bring down the capitalist system, destroy the U.S. Constitution, and break up the federal system by getting control of the government.

"The driving forces in this top network," wrote Chandler, "are the 'thought leaders' and other individuals in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndacalists." He noted that "leadingmembers are the Washington, D.C.-based revolutionary centers -- the institute for Policy Studies ... as well as the coopted mainstream media and politicians making up the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the 'Shadow Party' hiding inside the Democratic Party...."

According to Chandler, "The radical Left" is engaging in a new form of political warfare in which the Left targeted "open spaces" in the American social structure; namely, schools and universities, government, churches and community organizations. The idea was, wrote Chandler, "to transform society and replace traditional American values and institutions with neo-Marxist values." At a Marxist conference that Chandler attended, one of the agenda items was openly listed as, "The Strange Pleasures of Destruction in Capitalist America." He relates that most of the participants "were university professors." In the course of this conference, purely by accident, he ran into Zapatista Subcommandante Marcos in an underground parking garage.

According to Chandler, "Orthodox communsits warned conference participants about the dangers of wandering away from the basics of Marx and Lenin...." He further explained that everyone present at the conference agreed it was necessary to "destroy the state as a part of the coming socialist revolution. There simply was no other way to achieve socialist governance in the United States than to crush the existing capitalist system."

Now the sequence should be clear. If the United States is bankrupt, politically divided and internally sabotaged by the radicals of the Left who have everywhere infiltrated the system, will there be a logistical support network for maintaining our tanks, bombers and ICBMS?

What seems fantastic on first-hearing is actually everyday life for those who are paying attention. Look at the world around you. There are those who have been enriching themselves as they sabotage the economy and poison the culture. They pretend to care about the poor and downtrodden. But they live in mansions, collect enormous sums from government and business, advancing the foreign policy goals of enemy dictators. The organized Left is a business with access to billions of dollars. Its tendency is to serve as a fifth column.

Now imagine the collapse of the dollar. Imagine the collapse of the U.S. federal system, the Constitution, and America's domestic tranquility. How will the country defend itself from Russian missiles when our missiles no longer work because they have fallen into disrepair after an economic collapse? Here is asymetrical warfare at its best. Here is the beginning of what I call "the sequence."

Obama's War: Afghanistan Is Spelled V-I-E-T-N-A-M

August 29, 2009
by Dave Lindorff

President Barack Obama has staked his presidency on winning his “necessary” war in Afghanistan. Coming into office, one of his first acts, on Feb. 18, was to boost US troop levels in that country by 17,000, bringing the total number of soldiers and Marines in the country to about 57,000, to which one must also add 74,000 private contractors, most of them in the role normally handled by military personnel, and about 33,000 other soldiers from NATO countries and Australia. That’s 164,000 foreign soldiers fighting against Taliban fighters.

Ominously, even with the new US troops, US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen this month has described the situation in Afghanistan as being “serious and deteriorating.” The Afghani national government—if an organization that is basically confined to the capital city of Kabul and a few other cities can be called a national government, is hopelessly corrupt and ineffective, and a current national election, which US forces sought to “protect” by sending troops to election districts, appears to have been a disaster, plagued by vote rigging and with low turnout.

The US war in Afghanistan, billed as part of a war on terror begun by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in September 2001, is now eight years old, and while the Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan at that time has been ousted from Kabul, its insurgency grows by the day in strength and popular support.

The US, meanwhile, is identified as an occupier and as the sole support of a corrupt regime of drug lords, thieves and charlatans.

Does this sound familiar? It should. It is a replay of what America did in Vietnam.

The roots of the current Afghanistan War lie in the period when the Soviet Union was occupying the country and backing a Communist-led government in the 1970s, and the US was conducting a proxy war against the Soviets, with the CIA training and funding both the Taliban and foreign fighters, mostly Arab, led by the likes of Osama Bin Laden. In the end, the Taliban, with the help of groups like Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, triumphed, pushing the Russians out. But over time, as the Soviet Union crumbled and the US became more focused on the Middle East, successive US administrations became less and less happy with the power arrangement in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, following the US Gulf War in 1990-91, Bin Laden and other Arab fighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere began to see the US as an enemy, and the US began to shift its military focus from being based upon anti-Communism to being anti-Arab, or at least anti Arabist, as defined as being opposed to those Arabs who wanted to overthrow the corrupt dictatorial leaderships in the oil states of the Middle East.

When the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked in 2001, the Bush/Cheney administration, which had already planned to overthrow the government in Iraq, launched an attack on Afghanistan, claiming that its Taliban government was harboring Al Qaeda, which was blamed for the attacks. The Afghanistan War was on. The Taliban was quickly ousted from Kabul, and Al Qaeda was largely driven into the remote tribal areas of Pakistan, but the war was not won. Indeed, since then, it has gone from bad to worse for the US, as the Taliban has clawed back territory and recovered much of its prior power.

The background of the war in Vietnam dates from 1954, when Vietnam, after a long struggle, won its independence from its colonial ruler, France. Two years later, the US blocked a UN-supervised national referendum, effectively splitting the country into two parts, a Communist north led by the hero of Vietnam’s independence struggle, Ho Chi Minh, and the south, led by the corrupt former French colonial stooge Ngo Dinh Diem.

With elections off, a small group of partisans, the Viet Cong, began an insurrection against the government in the South in early 1959, which the US became committed to opposing, initially sending in “advisers” to train and direct the South Vietnamese army. That war went from bad to worse, and when, in 1964, it became clear to US police-makers, that the Viet Cong were likely to win, President Lyndon Johnson made a decision to send in massive numbers of US troops and to begin a major bombing campaign against the North Vietnam. From 2000 US troops in Vietnam in 1961, there were 16,500 in 1964, and by mid 1965, 100,000. That number continued to rise, reaching 200,000 by 1966, and ultimately, at the height of the war, over 500,000. But the Viet Cong, and later, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese troops sent down from the north, were never defeated. Indeed, they continued to grow in number and in their control of the countryside. While they suffered horrific losses because of the superior firepower of US forces, and an American scorched-earth policy in the countryside, the Vietnamese forces continued to gain more and more support from the Vietnamese people. In the end, after suffering over 58,000 dead, the US cried uncle and left Vietnam. By 1975, the puppet regime in Saigon fell, and Vietnam was finally unified again, under Communist rule.

From the beginning of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the country, a poor nation of peasant farmers, was presented to the American public as a critical threat to the security of the United States. If Vietnam were to “fall,” Americans were told, the rest of Southeast Asia, like a chain of dominos, would fall—first Cambodia and Laos, then Thailand and Malaysia, then Indonesia, and finally, even Australia would be at risk. Of course, no such thing happened. The Vietnamese Communists were always, and remained, a nationalist movement, and after winning their multi-generational struggle for independence, focused on developing their country (though they did step in and overthrow a genocidal Communist regime that had taken over in Cambodia, installing a saner government).

It had been a giant scam on the American people from the beginning, and it ended up costing several million Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian lives, and 58,000 American lives, though that scarcely tells the toll, in terms of those crippled mentally and physically, those poisoned by the widespread spraying of toxic defoliants, and the laying of millions of anti-personnel mines that are still killing and maiming people in Indochina today.

Now a new president, Obama, like Johnson before him, is telling Americans that a war half a world away is “necessary for American security.” This is a ludicrous assertion on its face. If Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, and really hardly a country at all, is a threat to US national security, so is Malawi, Burundi and Fiji.

Let’s be rational for a moment. The Taliban, whatever their irrational Islamic fanaticism and their misogyny, have no interest in America, other than to drive our troops out of their country. When they were in charge in Kabul back in 2001, they had their hands full just trying to hang on in the face of the war lords and drug kingpins who held (and still hold) sway in various parts of the country, and when they eventually win and drive the US and its NATO allies out of Afghanistan, they will have their hands full again, just clinging to power.

American national security is not to the slightest degree threatened by the Taliban.

Okay, so back in 2001 there was a gang of Arabs in Afghanistan which had since 1990, at least, expressed some hostility towards the US, but that crew, after all, had been set up by the CIA in the first place, and anyway, by 2002 it had been largely shattered and driven out of Afghanistan, and into Pakistan and parts unknown.

The current Afghanistan War, which President Obama claims is so necessary to American security, is not against Al Qaeda though; it is against the Taliban, and it simply cannot be won, anymore than the US war against the Vietnamese could be won.

Today, as in the late 1960s, the Pentagon is telling the president that it needs more troops. There is a military imperative not to lose a war. No general or admiral wants to be the guy in charge when the jig is declared up, and the troops have to be brought home as losers. And so they are asking for more and more troops and weapons, in hopes of hanging on until they get get cashiered out.Obama, like Johnson before him, will buy into this criminal policy, because he too doesn’t want to “lose” a war before he leaves office.

That should be pretty scary, since I’m sure Obama is hoping that he will be in office not just through 2012, but through 2016. That’s a long time to keep escalating a hopeless and pointless conflict, just to avoid having to say it was a mistake in the first place.

But lest you say that it cannot happen, recall that the first US advisers went to Vietnam in 1959, the big escalation began in 1964, and the US didn’t leave until 1974. That’s 15 years of war and ten years of major warfare.

Because the Bush/Cheney administration was always more interested in invading Iraq than in invading Afghanistan, and pulled out many troops from the latter country in late 2002 to ship them to Iraq, the Afghan War has escalated more slowly than the Vietnam War did. But I’d say that today we are about where we were in Vietnam at the start of 1965. That is, the big lie, and the big escalation in the fighting, are both just getting going.

If the American people don’t rise up and demand an end to this thing right now, we could be in for another 8-10 years of brutal and bloody warfare, and in the end, the United States is, once again, going to lose.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

New Delhi : "The Policy is progressive and gives a clear direction to the nation's export drive at a time when the global markets are floundering," stated J.S. Chopra, President of The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) welcoming the new Foreign Trade Policy.

The extension of the DEPB scheme by one more year is a welcome step and was expected. However, this extension should have been for a longer period of 3-4 years to provide an element of stability in the policy which is critical for servicing medium to long-term export contracts. The extension of the Income 'lax Benefit under Section 10B for EOU till 2011 is also a welcome step and was a specific recommendation of ACMA. The reduction in Duty for import of capital goods to zero under EPCG will also help in creation of incremental export oriented capacity in the country, which had tapered off during the last few months and is now beginning to show signs of revival as the world economy begins to recover.

The increase in the incentive from 2.5% to 3% under the Focus Market Scheme and from 1.25% to 2% under Market Linked Focus Product Scheme for auto-components are also welcome steps and will also assist the industry in enhancing their relative export competitiveness vis-a-vis other competing countries to some extent. The expansion of the scheme to countries like Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ukraine, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia and Vietnam will also help the auto- component industry in tapping new growth markets in view of the flagging exports in the traditional markets.However, the scheme includes only 15 auto-component tariff lines at present. ACMA's suggestion to include all auto-component tariff lines under this scheme has not been agreed to, which is a disappointment.

The policy also makes efforts to encourage deeper involvement of the State Governments to the National Export movement. The scheme of Assistance to State for Infrastructure Development of Exports has been modified and the purposes for which the State Governments could utilize the Funds under this Scheme for creating export linked infrastructure has been expanded. We hope that this will help in making exports a truly National Movement rather than just a Centre driven priority", said Mr. Chopra.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bull Racing in Mort Chrout

August 28, 2009
Love Khmer

Bull racing before here has conducted by Indigenous Khmer Krom in Mort Chrout, but Vietnamese Communist Government treated its theirs, and they controll all of this program for bull racing during Bonn Sen Donta.

Khmer Krom in 7 moutians always conduct game on Bonn Sen Donta or the Pchum Benn day, and they conduct in the pagoda where they change place from year to year. From this game become famous, the Vietnamese Communist Government demand to celebrate its byself and they said they will pay for all. On contrast, they want to earn money from this game when they sell ticket 8000/ticket, and they can earn from 300 millions dong per year from this game.

Furthermore, Vietnamese Communist Government attempts to delete this Khmer culture when they call this game of Vietnamese people and let them conduct byself. For Khmer Krom just join and needn't spend anything.

For season, Vietnamese Communist Government does not conduct this game at the Khmer Krom pagoda as ever, but they will conduct it in Chau Doc from 17-19 September.

However, this year this game Khmer in Cambodia also join with Khmer Krom and Vietnamese when the Vietnamese Committee never make sure for Khmer Krom to lead this game...

Cambodian private equity firm Leopard Capital adds two new team members

28 Aug 2009. Source: AltAssets

Leopard Capital, a Cambodian private equity firm, has added two new team members to strengthen its operations as it continues to raise capital for its debut vehicle, Leopard Cambodia Fund.

Dat Duong, CFA, has joined the firm as an associate partner. Duong was formerly a Merrill Lynch investment banker in Hong Kong, where he worked closely with Leopard Capital CIO Scott Lewis, another Merrill alumnus. He replaces Matthew Magenheim who is returning to the US.

Mohamed Aslam has joined Leopard Capital as marketing manager. A native of Sri Lanka, Aslam earlier spent 13 years as a private banker for high net worth clients in Switzerland, and as a stockbroker in Sri Lanka.

The Leopard Cambodia Fund was launched in March 2008 and is targeting sectors in the financial services, agriculture, food and beverage production, building materials, tourism, and property development in the South-East Asian country.The fund most recently acquired a majority stake in Kingdom Breweries for $2m.

Address biodiversity loss, ASEAN urged

August 28, 2009

Philippine-based Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Center for Biodiversity (ACB) urged the ASEAN member-nations to address biodiversity loss in the region, noting that the benefits of intact biodiversity to the ASEAN region is estimated to be worth over US$200 billion annually.

The ACB cited that biodiversity brings enormous benefits to mankind from direct harvesting of plants and animals for food, medicine, fuel, construction materials, and other uses to aesthetic, cultural, recreational and research values.

Likewise, it said, benefits to ecosystems include climate and water regulation; creation and protection of soils, reducing floods and soil erosion, shoreline protection, and providing natural controls of agricultural pests, all of which promote creative evolution.

"These services are estimated to be worth over US$200 billion annually. This amount can save 56 million victims of tuberculosis over a 10-year period; and can feed 862 million people annually for six years,” the European Union-funded ACB said.

“Millions of people depend on sustainably harvested fish, timber and fruits for nutrition and their livelihoods,” it added.

It also noted that about 80 percent of the income of the rural poor is derived from the local biodiversity.

“Wood remains the most common fuel throughout the region. In fact, much of the leap and development of the countries of ASEAN during the period of 1970 to 1990 is founded on the sale of commercial timber,” ACB said.

ACB executive director Rodrigo Fuentes said the 10 ASEAN member-states are working together to protect the biodiversity, particularly in meeting the 2010 Biodiversity Target.

In April 2002, ASEAN countries namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, where among the 191 parties worldwide that committed to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levelas a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.

This target was subsequently endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations General Assembly and was incorporated as a new target under the Millennium Development Goals.