30 December 2006

My comments on Saddam Hussein 's Death

The strongman dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq was hanged. He was operating the country like he was running a mafia business. Corrupted to the core. The army was his. The police was his. The court and the law were his. His family, brothers, sons appointed in high government positions.

My reaction is justice was served of this condemned criminal. I agreed with Jawad Abdul-Aziz who Sadam killed his father, three brothers and 22 cousins. Jawad said this execution of Sadam "now, he is in the garbage of history" .

That's what happen when you ruled the country through fear, intimidation and killings. In general, the country is not progress when you have one strongman rules for so long.

Democracy and will of the people prevailed.

29 December 2006

Sok Serei Suspicious Accident and RFA Covering Up

Khmer Radio Free Asia statement released: "For listeners who would like to donate money to help pay Mr. Sok Serei ‘s hospital fee, please contact his family directly.”

I think Khmer Radio Free Asia (RFA) is covering up or trying to hide Sok Serei “suspicious road accident”. Khmer language RFA Director, Kem Sos should have some explaining to do.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF.org) reported Sok Serei, a Radio Free Asia journalist had “suspicious road accident “ while riding his motor scooter on the street of Phnom Penh on the evening of 13 December 2006. Bystanders who witnessed the incidence saw a driver who drove a large vehicle in opposite direction slammed open the vehicle‘s door which knocked Sok Serei and his daughter off to the concrete road. Sok Serey and his daughter were taken to the hospital. His daughter was in a stable condition while he was in a coma for over night.

Sam Rainsy, the leader of the Sam Rainsy Party visited Sok Serey at the Calumets Hospital on 21 December 2006. Sok Serei told Sam Rainsy that of all his radio reporting news, he heavily covered the rampant corruption within the country. In one of his reporting coverered the Chinese company Green Rich on logging inside the 18,300 hectares at Botum Sakor National Park in Koh Kong province. Cambodia Department of Environment secretly withdrew the lawsuit. It allowed Green Rich Company to continue the logging inside the national park. (see picture).

Green Rich clear cutting of the forest at Botum Sakor National Park, Koh Kong.

Kem Sos, the Khmer RFA Director has very much to do in covering up or hiding the corruptions. According to Khmer language news Sralanh Khmer issue 23 December 2006, Sok Serey said his reporting that was planned to broadcast would reveal many top government ministers involving the corruptions. Kem Sos prohibited Sok Serei's reporting to be aired because those top corrupted ministers are all Kem Sos's own friends and acquaintances.

For Sok Serei it was a “suspicious” accident for sure, but it even more suspicious when Khmer RFA said absolutely nothing about the accident until 8 days later. On 21 December 2006 it released the news on the incident. The official announcement from RFA was seeking donations from listeners to help pay Sok Serei’s hospital bill. Here’s my translation from RFA’s released statement: “For listeners who would like to donate money to help pay Mr. Sok Serei ‘s hospital fee, please contact his family directly.” RFA did not tell HOW listeners can contact his family. How irresponsible Khmer RFA is when coming to aid of their fellow employees.

I love listening to Khmer RFA news programs. The RFA broadcast service is funded by American people. The American government should investigate Director Kem Sos whether he adheres to high standard of journalism or he serves as disinformation for us all.

More reading on: Cambodia: Plantations and the Death of the Forest

I can resist everything except temptation

I abandoned the part 2 of the below “Around the Town” posting. I edited the story as it's just one part.

On that second part I was going to write about the watch seller enticed me to buy another watch. It looked so good. English writer Oscar Wilde wrote “I can resist everything except temptation”. That’s exactly how I felt. The temptation of getting a second watch was so great.

That day I smiled the biggest when I walked out from the watch shop with new different Citizen model worn on my wrist. This one is a Promaster Tough, model PMT56-2732.

Two watches for me. That's enough. That's luxurious!

Illumination on the face of my Citizen Promaster PMT56-2732 at night time.

20 December 2006

Around the Town

Top view on Phnom Penh Psa Tmey (New Market). The photo here was found from the internet. To the owner of the photograph, please don't sue me.

Yesterday I stopped by at the watch shop in Psa Tmey Phnom Penh. It is the same shop I bought my first Citizen Promaster watch from about 2 weeks ago. The seller of course recognised me from my countryside 'Srok Srehស្រុកស្រែ' appearance, with dark complexion and unmistakable eye glasses. Not many people from Srok Sreh are wearing eye glasses at age 26 ! My poor eye sight failed me miserably before my age. I now have to wear eye glasses which make me look like an intellectual fool .

So I chit chat with the watch seller on news of here and there. We talked about Sok Serey, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporter fell into coma resulted from a car hit him while riding his moto. Sok Serey did some investigative reporting on government corruption. His incendiary reporting might have hit hard on the top corrupted officials and that's why they wanted to silence him. What's so astonishing to both of us was RFA said absolutely nothing about it. I've been listening to RFA every day both in evening and morning broadcasts, I heard not a single word on the purported accident. It’s probably like the government made a deal under the table and bribed RFA to shut up.

Then the conversation went into how I really love the watch I purchased from him two weeks ago. The watch seller told me he doesn't carry that model PMT56-2711 anymore. He said my Citizen Promaster watch on the streets of Phnom Penh, would be as rare as ‘1000 year old ginseng’ This really lightened up my mood. It made me feel so privileged on the power of money! If you have money you can buy everything even the 1000 year old ginseng! It made me feel so good for I know my money is hard earned through sweat and toil. Not a single riel ($) I earned by no mean, through guilt, dishonest nor corruption. There're too many corrupt government officials here already, I don’t need to be like one of them.

12 December 2006

ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ​ Preah Vihear Temple Is In Khmer Soul

Thailand Admission Ticket to see Cambodia's Prasat Preah Vihear.
(Picture: I found on the internet)

Recently, according to the newspaper Moneakseka Khmer printed an article stated Thai still has intention to ‘swallow up’ Prasat Preah Vihear (Temple) through propaganda to tourists visiting Thailand. The article said Thailand Tourism has been handing out small tourguide (booklets) to tourists with the map showing Preah Vihear Temple is clearly inside their country.

I was appalled by this unscrupulous mean committed by Thailand. Yes, upset too. As a civilized country, Thailand stoops so low and so arrogant toward Cambodia. They take advantage of every opportunity they can to intimidate Cambodia. What a shameful act. If Thailand continued to be so deceptive like this, they will not get any respect from world community. One tourist wrote he “was amazed to find that Thailand has a "Wat Prasat Pra Wiharn" historical park, despite the fact that it’s in Cambodia!”. Another foreign tourist wrote when he was up at the temple he saw English hand-painted signed posted "Preah Vihear Is In Khmer Soul". He commented the word "Soul" should have been changed in the letter from ' u ' to ' i ' --so sign would be read "Preah Vihear is In Khmer Soil"

Preah Vihear Temple is really Cambodia heart and soul. We even had one of our northern provinces named after it. It would be ironic if our Preah Vihear province we named had no Prasat Preah Vihear. Thanks to justice in World Court. . In 1962 World Court members ruled 9 to 3 in favoured of awarding Preah Vihear Temple to the rightful owner.

Thailand should take corrective measure to print accurate tour guides not to mislead tourists or otherwise people will claim ignorance had indeed befallen upon the entire Thai race. What a shame.

Blog Administrator
Thom Vanak.

07 December 2006

The Timepiece --Precision of Japanese Craftsmanship

Have you ever experienced ‘Buyer’s regret' syndrome? Many times I have, but I’m getting more wiser now. I buy things base on my need, not want.

‘Buyer’s regret’ is something I want to have when I see it. For example, the latest mobile phone from Nokia or Motorola. The other day I saw the display at Soriya Mall inside the glass case. Oh! They look so good! I just want it. Had I bought the new mobile phone, I would have regret for my wasteful spending. My old Nokia I purchased 3 years ago has never failed me. It still reliable and works just as great.

What I saw at the market the other day was not a mobile phone, but it was a timepiece!!-- A beautiful wrist watch that fits my style and need (hahaha—lolx, I’m trying to justify my purchase).

There are only two movement makers that are well-known: Either the watch is Swiss or Japanese. I happened to like the Japanese movement. I don’t care about Swiss’s Tissot, Tag Hauer or Rolex ! I love the Japanese precision and craftsmanship. That beautiful wristwatch I purchased was a Citizen Promaster. (See Picture)

This Citizen watch I bought was marketed only for Japan. It is not for America nor Europe market. Its model is PMT56-2711. It’s a Citizen Promaster Tough (PMT). It made from titanium rather than stainless steel. I read from the internet that titanium is almost ½ (half) the weight of stainless steel, but twice stronger! Titanium metal doesn’t corrode nor attract to magnet. Because titanium metal is light but strong, it is the metal of choice for building space shuttles and satellites in launching them into the outer space. I can say this titanium watch is truly light in weight. It fits just right on my left wrist. The face of the watch is populating with tiny hexagonal shapes on deep blue colour. At night, the large numbers and hands illuminate so brightly. This watch has the Eco-drive technology where it uses any light source (sunlight, daylight, lightbulb..etc) as energy and charging to the internal battery. So practically, people claimed that it will never need to change the battery. Another feature I love about this watch is the Perpetual Calendar. This means the date is ALWAYS right until year 2100. Each ending month whether the date is 30, 31, 28, 29, is ALWAYS correct. And, also the watch is 200 meters water resistance. Now not only I can swim, but also dive down to 200 meters deep, without worrying water will get into it. Haahaha-- look like if I’m to ever dive 200 meters deep!! . I swim in rivers and lakes occasionally and dive at most 6 meters deep to the bottom. That's it. I'm not a fish, so my mammalian lung can't hold the breath too long under the water. Six meters deep is very minimal as compare to the threshold of 200 meters.

I’m extremely pleased with my watch's purchase . No regret at all. In our rugged Cambodia and as a modest Khmer farmer who’s so active in outdoor farm works (tver sreh–jomkar, naysat-trey(fishing)), I know I will enjoy the Citizen “Promaster Tough” timepiece that will last me through the test of time.

Citizen Promaster Tough. Model: PMT56-2711 .

01 December 2006

Of Kings And Men

I'm now reading fantasy fiction 'The Belgariad' by David Eddings. It's a used book. Well worned on the cover. Here's dialogue chosen from the novel between two characters Garion & Silk.\

"Yes, Garion?", Silk asked, rousing himself.
"What kind of man is the king?"
"Which king?"
"Of Sendaria."
"A foolish man---like all kings" Silk laughed.....
"How do they get to be kings, then?" Garion demanded.
"Some are born to it," Silk said. "The stupidest man in the world can be a king if he has the right parents"

I just laughed. How true !!

"Meas Kmao--Black Gold" Oil Found in Cambodia

Recently I read a Khmer language newspaper with the headline (my translation) "The Benefits of Oil and Gas Could Become Economic War For Corrupt Officials in Cambodia". The headline really caught my attention so I went on reading the entire article.

American company Chevron was granted by our Cambodia government to do oil and gas exploration on our continental shelf--off the sea coast along Kampong Som and Kampot areas in the Gulf of Thailand. In 2004 and 2005 Chevron hit the black gold in 4 out of 5 drillings, and they plan to drill 10 more places within the next 2 years.They estimated from 121 to 700 million of barrels could be found in our Cambodia ocean.

The Cambodia people are very skeptical about the income from oil and gas will go into the country's development from current state of extreme poverty. They are worry the income generated would fall into the hands of corrupt and the powerful officials. Prime Minister Hun Sen kept touting the government won't allow the benefits from our oil and gas to become a 'curse' for the Cambodia people. He said this because he awares of corrupt officials are in fierce competitions with each other to reap whatever they can.

Cambodia leaders should put their heads together. The world is watching us very closely. World Bank has announced Cambodia natural oil and gas is the economic source for Cambodia. One United Nation observer said oil and gas could generate income our country from $6 billion to $7.5 billion(US) per year. Let's hope these oil and gas revenue will help rebuilding our country and gradually paying off all of our debts.

14 November 2006

ខ្ញុំឈឺស្មាខាងស្តាំ - A pain on my right shoulder

ថ្ងៃនេះមិនដឹងជាមកពីអី ខ្ញុំឈឺស្មាខាងស្តាំ ខ្ញុំខំរកនឹកថា ខ្ញុំបានធើអីខ្លះ?​ មិនបានលី ឬ សែង​ ឬ​ រែក​ លើស្មានេះផង​ ប្រហែលជាសាច់ដុំវាទាញ ឬ មួយយ៉ាងណា ឥឡូវនេះខំលេបថ្នាំ Ibuprofen សង្ឃឹម ថាឱសថ នឹងជួយសំរាលភាពចុកគ្រាំនេះ។ ដល់ឈឺស្មាតែម្ខាងយ៉ាងនេះ​ ខ្ញុំចង់តែវាយ អាម្ខាង ឆ្វេងទៀត អោយវាឈឺស្មើរគ្នា ដើម្បីនៅពេលខ្ញុំធើ្វ ដំណើរ កុំអោយវាដូចជាប្អៀង បាក់ទៅម្ខាង៕

What’s happening to me today? I have a pain on my right shoulder. I try to think what​ did I do? I didn’t carry anything on that shoulder. Perhaps some type of muscle pulled?. Now I’m taking ​Ibuprofen in hoping the pill will alleviate the pain. When it’s hurting only on one side like this I just want to self-inflict the left side​​ so the pain would be balanced out. This case when I’m walking I don’t feel my one side of shoulder is drooping.

26 October 2006

What I Think About Conscription Law

Logo of Cambodia National Assembly. It recently has just passed the conscription law. It requires to draft men from 18 to 30 years old to serve in the military.

Cambodia 'Rath Sakphea' National Assembly has just passed the conscription law. The new law requires men of my age to serve the military for 18 months. If our Cambodia in the time of war I can understand that. But,we are in the time of peace. Economic development and education should be our top priorities. We don't need to have a larger army. Who are we going to fight against ? The Vietnamese ? The Thai ? Militarily, we have no chance against the modern weaponry of these powerful neighbours. Educate ourselves and learned the internation law is more beneficial should 'muy jom-arm' ( 1 inch) of our land is encroaching by them.

According to western voices this conscription law is to correct the Cambodia unemployement problem. So true, I agree with the western critics. Cambodia should have strong rule of law. Clean up corruption in all of the government posts, such as police, judges...etc. If our country is free of corruption, then outside countries would be willing to invest and woudn't be afraid to do businesses in our country. This will lead to economic development.

Mandatory serving in the military will put me 18 months BEHIND from my pursuing goal. I am so sad and afraid of the military drafting law right now. How incompetent these Khmer law makers. Who's in the right mind came up with this ?
Insanity. I will not vote for the persons or the party who are made and passed this law. In such a peaceful time as now, whoever came up with this law are not out here to serve the public for prosperity of Cambodia; they are very, very short sighted.

25 October 2006

The Fool of A Prince

The Fool of A Prince

There is news all over here in Phnom Penh on Prince Norodom Ranariddh has been ousted from the leadership of FUNCINPEC party will start a new party. This is what I called the 'Fool of A Prince', and Prime Minister Hun Sen 's dream comes true. PM Hun Sen loves new parties created. The devision of the opposition parties would weakening the core of the opposition itself. Split votes would be resulted from the multi opposition parties. Thus, Mr. Hun Sen's party will ALWAYS win the election. Since the plan fall right into it perhaps PM Hun Sen himself is behind the scheme of Prince Ranariddh's ousted.

Why us Khmer never learn ? The prince's pride and the ego are so high. I wish he would just accept the fact. Humble himself. Rather than start a new party he should throw support to endorse the FUNCINPEC party. Be true to the party for he will win the people's heart and mind. 'Humble' is the key word. Apologize to the people and his party that he had disappointed them. Come out clean !! I have a soft heart readily to forgive, forget and live on.

One thing is optimistically about my Cambodia is that we still have the opposition party in the political arena, or otherwise we're no different from our neighbour Laos, where I think Hanoi is currently dictating the head governement at Vientiane.

From My Opionion,
Vanak Thom

13 October 2006

The Element of Fiction

I came across and bought this novel at Phnom Penh Psa Tmey (New Market)last week. It was the only copy left. The cover was a bit dusty and slightly torn. The pitcure shown here was borrowed from Amazon.com website.

My Review:
The novel "The Kite Runner" was written by Khaled Hosseini. The story is about two Afghanistan boys. One is the privileged educated while the other boy is illiterate and very poor. Thier lives interconnected with each other with elements of love, loyalty, hatred, cowardice, bravery, violence, hornour, and secrecy .

Although I am Khmer and (non-practicing)Buddhist by religion, I wanted to try a reading on different part of the world: Afghanistan and Islam. From this book I've learned alot about Afghanistan during the Taliban ruled. It's sooooooo good!! I wish I can write like this author. The novel is 370 pages long and easy read. Recommended !! Please continue reading the selected excerpts i choose. The first one on 'greed' and the subsequent one on 'sin'.
Excerpt#1: (on greed)
"That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife's slain body in his arms." -- Chapter 4 page 31 "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.

Here's a conversation between the boy named Amir and his Baba (father)taken directly from the end of chapter 3 of the novel. (Mullah is a Muslim clergy).
Excerpt #2: (on sin)
"Hmm." Baba crushed an ice cube between his teeth. "Do you want to know what your father thinks about sin ?"
"Then I'll tell you, " Baba said, "but first understand this and understand it now, Amir: You'll never learn anything of value from those bearded idiots."
"You mean Mullah Fatiullah Khan?"
Baba gestured with his glass. The ice clinked. "I mean all of them. Piss on the beards of all those self-rightteous monkeys...They do nothing but thumb their prayer beads and recite a book written in a tongue they don't even understand". [...]
"Now no matter what the mullah teaches,there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that ?"

"No, Baba jan," I said, desperately wishing I did. I didn't want to disappoint him again. [....]

"When you kill a man, you steal a life," Baba said. "You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see ?" --- Chapter 3 page 17-18 "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.

These passages really stimulated me. How I marvel at creative writing of the book ! This is the first novel I read that I felt so touched. I cried a least 3 times during the reading. So if you're picking this book up, let me warn you: Be prepared to wipe your tears and blow your nose.

Thom Vanak

11 October 2006

Another Gift from Prime Minister Hun Sen

No need for translation on this one. (Please click on the picture for larger view).

Politicians are public figures to serve the interest of the public. The populace voted for them, therefore all politicians are open for criticism. That's what it should be. I'm just expressing how I feel that is all, I'm not even criticize. Do I just keep my mouth shut and always praise that our dearest leader Prime Minister Hun Sen is ALWAYS right ? Truely I don't hate our prime minister. But can I disagree with his policy or do I have to agree with the prime minister ALL of the time ?

I never been outside of our country. I've learned from reading a lot materials. I am not sure if the western countries are like Cambodia in regards to naming a bridge, school, hospitals...etc as 'THE GIFT' from thier current leaders. For example,

Australia: Bridge is GIFT from John Howard.

France: School is a GIFT from Jacque Chirac.

USA: Hospital is a GIFT from George W Bush

They may named in honoured of someone, then that would be OK with me. In our Phnom Penh we have Luis Pasteur Hospital, Mao Tse Tung Boulevard...etc. This is fine with me. (Although I'm not too fond of naming our road after a Communist).

If anybody has comments please enlighten me on this. Thanks for visiting my blog.


04 October 2006

A Gift from Prime Minister Hun Sen

Sangkai River Bridge 91.50meters
Gift From
Samdach Hun Sen, Prime Minister
of Kingdom of Cambodia

I think the bridge shouldn't be labeled as a gift from any individual person. It's more like a government's responsibility and duty to build/maintain roads, irrigations, bridges, schools, hospitals...and so on to improve the lives of the people.

29 August 2006

Krong Sopheamit

Over the weekend I picked up a Khmer classic ‘Krong Sopheamit’. This book was short. It is about 100 pages long written in such poetic prose. I was so captivated by the story which entirely written in 3 Khmer poem tunes of Bot Kaketek, Bot Puchunglilea and Bot Pumnol. The author did a superb job on narrating the story; in every page it was so descriptive and full of imageries. (Please read the excerpt below)

The story was about a compassionate king named Krong Sopheamit who has younger brother named Preah Ak-Sopheamit. The king’s younger brother Ak-Sopheamit built up the army for plotting to overthrow his brother and took over the throne for himself. Krong Sopheamit knew the deceitfulness of his younger brother. So to avoid the feud, war, and bloodshed, Krong Sopheamit gave up the throne and exiled himself far away from the kingdom. The epic poem described on the ordeals of Krong Sopheamit, his queen and two children while in exiled.

I will not spoil you any detail nor ending. You have to read it yourself. I highly recommended this classic to those who interest in our Khmer literature.

(Krong Sopheamit. Poem tune of Bot Puchunglilea)

02 August 2006


I have a female childhood friend who's now living in Battambang province. She's not only a very intelligent lady but also has a great sense of humour. She makes me laugh all the time when we see or talk to one another. We speak mostly in Khmer but practice our English on each other whenever we have a chance. One of the qualities I like about her is that we never get angry in anything we do or say to each other.

She had just forewarded this above picture chart to me.

I telephoned to tell her I like it. It's very funny and said,
"Hmmmm, by looking at the picture chart I would say it's GLOBAL WARMING 2007!

She paused, "Huh ? " Sounded confused. "Niyay pi ey 'global warming 2007', Thom ? (What are you talking about, Thom)".

"Do you have your computer on with that graph chart in front of you ?" I asked.

She answered "Ning heuy- affirmative".

I pointed to her "Now, you have to analyse and make a prediction from that chart".

Before I was about to explain why I said it's Global Warming 2007, I heard she laughed so hilariously on the phone " 'Yiss! charng teh teass!-I should slap you. You have a dirty mind, Thom", she said.

I just smiled.

Filed In Svay Rieng, Cambodia

27 July 2006

Kar doach Jea

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary,'pet peeve', is defined as a 'frequent subject of complaint'.

My pet peeve is our Khmer people using the words 'kar doach jea' so much in the normal conversation. Yesterday when I turned on to a TV show,one Khmer TV host said 'kar doach jea' 3 times in the first 4 minutes the television was on.

Khmer 'kar doach jea' word is literally translated to English 'as similar to'.

It is becoming a fad or the trend of these words 'kar doach jea'. Everybody is jumping on to use them. The words are popular especially among all of the TV show hosts and all ministers; the ones with His Excellency title(Ek Oudums)in their speeches or announcement. Here’s some examples:

A Minister 'Ek Oudom' might howl “…We must lower the rate of poverty ‘kar doch jea’ eliminate the corruption from our Kampuchea.”

Television host might say: “ I, ‘kar doch jea’ this TV station would like to thank viewers inside the country ‘kar doch jea’ our oversea people for support in tuning into our show.

Why not just simply use the word ‘and’ or in Khmer ‘ning’ – or some other variation such as ‘prorm teang’ ‘prorm jeamuy’? I am not a Khmer linguist expert, but I am so annoyed this word is much overused. I would like to just not hearing the words at least once in a normal conversation. Kar doch jea…kar doachjea …kar doch jea . Now the words are deeply stuck in me.

Merriam-Webster dictionary has definition of ‘pet peeve’. I have my own definition of the word ‘kar doch jea’: Khmer words meaning ‘and’ or ‘ning’ in Khmer language. The usage of 'kar doach jea'does not impress others to let them think that you are smart and sophisticated; in fact it makes you sound more stupid.

Bavet-Svay Rieng