Friday, July 3, 2009
I'm getting increasingly frustrated with Blogger. At the moment I can only add a blog post to my own blog if I sign in as a guest blogger - how crazy is that. So here I am, guest blogging on my own blog. And even then it took about fifteen ninutes to get into the posting template. So we may find that my posting rate goes awry until I can get my access fixed.
In the meantime, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal continues to role on and this week has been perhaps the most interesting so far because of the witness roll-call. It's been survivor week to put it bluntly, with Vann Nath, Chum Mey and Bou Meng appearing on the first three days - all of whom survived their time in Tuol Sleng whilst adults by virtue of their individual skills as painters or mechanics. On Thursday it was the turn of Norng Chan Phal, who was just eight years old when S-21 was discovered by the arriving Vietnamese. He gave evidence about his final days and the disappearance of his mother which Duch dismissed as he declared all children at S-21 were killed. Newly-acquired film footage taken by the Vietnamese, which was handed over to DC-Cam in recent months, and which included Norng Chan Phal and his younger brother, was rejected by the judges as inadmissable at this time. Next week, another five survivors of Tuol Sleng are expected to give evidence in the trial of the former chief of S-21, though their names are not released beforehand for personal safety reasons. Amongst them are likely to be former prison guards at the torture center, such as Him Houy. Elsewhere there's been lots more sabre-rattling over Preah Vihear as we approach the 1-year anniversary of the award of the World Heritage status to the temple. A big celebration is planned for the Olympic Stadium on 7 July and will no doubt rub the Thais up the wrong way again. And if Cambodian demands for the removal of the Thai soldiers stationed at the pagoda on the summit aren't met, expect more fireworks. This is not a situation that is going to go away anytime soon. Both sides are well dug-in for the duration and without outside arbitration, I don't see any end in sight of the stalemate.
The 131 kilometre road that joins Siem Reap to Anlong Veng will be officially opened tomorrow by PM Hun Sen. National Road 67 is its name and with the continuation road from Anlong Veng to Preah Vihear also taking shape as I type, soon the journey to Preah Vihear will be almost a breeze of about 4 hours maximum. Interesting to hear that in the first six months of this year, the total number of tourists visiting Preah Vihear was just over 34,000. Of those, foreign tourist numbers were down 83% on last year, to 5,050 - which is a lot more than I thought it would be. When I was there a couple of months ago, my brother and I were definitely the only foreigners there on that day. Mind you it was the day when 100 heavily-armed Thai soldiers tried to cross the border, so only an idiot would've been at the temple on that day [wink].