Archive for July, 2013

Malaria by Asienreisender

Posted in Health/Diseases, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease. It’s naturally transfered by a female mosquito of the kind anopheles from man to man. Another way of transfer can be by blood transfusion or other injections (with used syringes) with parasite – containing blood. Smallest amounts of blood already allow a transfer. Pregnant mothers can in certain cases transfer malaria to their child, but it’s not necessarily so.

A poster warning before mosquitoes. Seen at a hospital in Chumpon, south Thailand. Image by Asienreisender, 2012

The development of the parasite happens exclusively inside anopheles mosquitoes and human bodies. There are three different kinds of malaria. Meaningful for travellers in Southeast Asia is malaria tropica, the most dangerous one. The others are malaria tertiana (which was widespread also in Europe, up to middle- and northern Europe until the first half of the 20th century) and malaria quartana.

Famous malaria patients of the European past were Albrecht Duerer, Oliver Cromwell and Friedrich Schiller. Malaria was finally extinct from Europe not before the 1960s due to the ‘Global Malaria Eradiction Program’ (see below).

A famous Asian malaria victim was Mohandas Gandhi (1869 – 1948), who suffered a severe attack in Aga Khan Palace in Pune in 1942, where he was held as a political prisoner.

All these three kinds of malaria are human-specific, means they don’t infect animals (apart from very few exceptions at monkeys, some of them observed at macaques in Southeast Asia).

Anopheles mosquitoes are (together with aedes und culex mosquitoes) among the most widespread mosquito kinds. There are 360 different kinds of anopheles mosquitoes alone in the world, of whom 45 potentially carry malaria. Their habitats are not limited to the tropes and subtropes, but spread out until the borders of arctic regions.

Around 40% of the global human population lives in areas infested with malaria, of whom 300 – 500 million people are infected (according to the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin). More than 80% of them live in tropical Africa, 13.8% live in Asia.

In mountainous areas above 1.500m, near the equator from 2.500m on anopheles mosquitoes do not appear anymore. Malaria is pandemic in almost whole Southeast Asia. Indonesia and Burma / Myanmar have here by distance the most cases in percentage of the population. A growing resistance to antimalarials are a challenge in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.

The exciter for malaria tropica is the parasite plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal one among the four plasmodium parasites. Estimated 1.8 million people died in 2004 worldwide, 1.2 million in 2010 due to malaria.

Let’s assume that a biting mosquito is sucking blood. When the bitten human is malaria infected, the mosquito sucks with the blood the exciters which transfer within 8 to 16 days inside the mosquito into another phase and next to it’s final stage. When it gets injected then into another humans blood circulation, reaching there the human liver, it’s again breeding and spreading out into the vascular system. The perpetuation of the circle is then completed.

Read here more on the feeding habits of mosquitoes.

Know…

This is only the first chapter of the illustrated article ‘Malaria in Southeast Asia’. Read the whole article on Malaria in Southeast Asia by Asienreisender.

The following chapters are:

Malaria Prevention by Asienreisender
Malaria Immunity Asienreisender
Malaria Diagnosis by Asienreisender
Malaria Pathogenesis by Asienreisender
Malaria Therapy by Asienreisender
The ‘Global Malaria Eradiction Program’ by Asienreisender

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Mosquitoes in Southeast Asia

Posted in Animals, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Health Concerns

Tourists and Travellers who come to Southeast Asia are usually very concerned about safety and health. It’s generally more safe here than in most other parts of the world and generally easy to remain healthy; the dangers are mostly overestimated or self-caused.

Nevertheless I want to point out one potential threat here.

More dangerous than all the scary animals like tigers, cobras, king cobras, crocodiles and so on are the mosquitoes (Spanish / Portuguese for ‘little fly’), or at least a few certain kinds of mosquitoes who transfer dangerous diseases. The verymost kinds of mosquitoes do not transfer diseases, although, in more seldom cases, they can cause various other infections when transmitting bacterias, viruses or other parasites into the human body.

Various kinds of mosquito – transmitted tropical diseases are malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya fever, yellow fever, West-Nile fever, Rift-Valley fever, encephalitis and more. Some mosquitoes transfer parasitarian worms who can live in the human vascular system. Even HIV/AIDS can still not be completely excluded from the list of diseases transmitted by the nasty insects, but it’s at least considered highly unprobable.

Apart from these health threats mosquitoes are simply annoying and can spoil enjoying time or cause sleepless nights.

Mosquito Habits

The oldest known mosquito remain discovered until now is some 79 million years old. It’s imbedded into a piece of amber.

Although generally very small animals, some of them reach a size of more than 15mm.

The number of different kinds of mosquitoes in total vary between 2,500 and 3,500 species, they appear worldwide except in the polar regions and in deserts. They breed at waterplaces of all kind. In the swamps of Siberia, Canada and the north of Europe they appear in the summer month in masses and are much bigger and their bites leave a much bigger impact on the skin than the ones in Southeast Asia. Therefore they are much less dangerous in the north than in the tropical regions of the globe. Particularly the anopheles (malaria) mosquito is a very small representative of his kind. When sitting on walls or the skin it’s body shows a peculiar angle of some 45 degree to where it sits on, what makes it distinctive from other mosquito types.

Mosquitoes do not feed from blood, but from nectar and fruit juices. Only the females suck additionally blood. They need the containing proteins for their eggs. A ‘blood meal’ of a female mosquito is sufficient for around 100 eggs, who are layed two to three days after it. In their lifespan, which lasts several weeks, a female mosquito can produce 1,000 or more eggs in her life. Though, there are also kinds of mosquitoes who don’t bite humans but exclusively animals, and a few others who don’t bite at all.

They lay their eggs one by one on the surface of calm, preferable clear water. The development from egg via larva and pupa to a flying mosquito takes about two weeks.

Their rostrums contain two canals. One is injecting a protein containing saliva for a first, external digesting or preparation of the blood, through the other canal the mosquito sucks it’s meal up. The injected protein leads to a small allergic reaction and the well-known itching swelling. If the bite hits directly a nerve, the bit can trigger a small pain. It’s, by the way, said that the bite of a female anopheles (malaria) mosquito is particularly itchy.

Everybody made already the experience, that some people attract mosquitoes more than others do. That has to do with the human smell, which attracts the animals. The smell of lactic acid and other substances on the skin and in sweat serves for their orientation. When they are already close to humans, they also orientate visually and on body temperature.

That explains an observation frequently done while hiking in the jungle. Jungle trekking is a sweat-driving activity. Soon many mosquitoes are attracted and buzz around one’s head.

Male mosquitoes are in average 20% smaller than females, and they have bushy tentacles. As already mentioned males are not able to bite.

Most active mosquitoes get at warm, calm days without direct sunlight. When it gets too windy, they can not navigate anymore. That’s why they have problems with ventilators. When it’s too cool (10 degree or less) they get numb and paralized. They particularly dislike air conditioners.

Mosquitoes can fly over distances of several kilometers. Their speed can be considerable; it’s sometimes remarkable how quick they can disappear when being hunted. They manage to fly closely along walls, tree stams etc. to get cover and their trajectory is often very twisting and unpredictable. If the wind is favourable mosquitoes can fly as high as a hundred meters.

Mosquitoes are generally most active in the evening around sunset, sometimes in the morning, but can additionally appear at all times at day and night. Malaria mosquitoes are night active, while the ones transferring dengue are day active.

Mosquito Control and Practical Prevention

Fighting mosquitoes has a long tradition. For example the drainage of swamps detracts the basic for mosquito reproduction. An oil-film on breeding-waters stifles the mosquito larvaes. But it’s damaging the ecosystem as well, as many other approaches do. The problem of chemical treatments is always that not only the targeted mosquitoes but a lot of other species are also affected, if not whole biotopes. In many Southeast Asian countries DDT is still in use, while it is abolished in western countries since years (Stockholm Convention) and well known for it’s desastrous side-effects.

Another problem of chemical treatments are the growing resistances. DDT, supposed to be a superior mean against malaria in the 1950s, lost more and more effeciency over the following years being used.

Gentechnical approaches try to modify mosquito genes so that they can not reproduce anymore. Another approach is to make the mosquitoes themselves disease resistant, so that they can not serve as a host and transfer diseases as malaria and dengue fever anymore.

Dragonflies are very effective, hunting and eating mosquitoes at all stages of their development (eggs, larvaes, pupaes and adults). A number of other animals, insects, amphibians and fish eat mosquitoes or their spawn.

In Thailand I have seen the application of pesticides (presumably DDT containing) in great scale by troops of communal workers who used massive sprayers all along the river banks of the Mekong River and the inner town of Chiang Khong. Considered that all the housings, kitchens and restaurants are mostly open, it’s a very brutal way of dealing with mosquitoes. Not to mention that the pesticides get into the drainage system and the river later. Besides I didn’t see a relief in the mosquito plague in the following days.

There are many methods to prevent and fight mosquitoes in all-day-life, but still many people don’t care for that. First it’s helpful to avoid standing waters like little pools, flowerpots, tyres and so on catching rain water whenever possible, or to set little fish (like guppies) in them who eat their larvaes. It’s good to keep kitchen and kitchen surroundings clean, particularly from rotting fruits or fruit remains.

Above all one needs is to carry always a repellent in the pocket. Repellents are available in many shops in most places for small money. If you see mosquitoes around or you get a bite already, it’s best to use it immediately. The beasts target mostly for the ankles. At nighttime it’s best to apply a repellent on all parts of uncovered skin.

The most repellents are based on DEET. DEET is a chemical which is in use against mosquitoes since 1946 (developed by the US army, used much in the American Vietnam War) and since 1965 sold in the civil sector. The repellents I find in Southeast Asia are often pretty weak, containing 7%, 11% or 13% DEET. In western countries repellents contain 30%, sometimes up to 50%.

It’s yet not completely clear why actually DEET repels mosquitoes, but it has to do with the smell. Either the part of the human smell which attracts the mosquitoes is blocked in their reception, or the smell of the DEET itself causes the insects to stay away.

Side effects of DEET are possibly allergic reaction, insomnia, erratic mood swings and receptional irritations. It’s recommended not to be used by pregnant women and babies (below two years old).

One does not necessarily need a mosquito net. At warm nights a mosquito net queues the air and causes stifling air. On the other hand a mosquito net prevents from more than mosquitos – namely other animals who may creep around and might find the way into ones bed.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Mosquitoes in Southeast Asia’. Read the whole article on Mosquitoes in Southeast Asia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Cambodia, Country Profile Completed

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , on July 27, 2013 by Thim Kwai

For all the followers of this blog I just want to announce that the main article on ‘Cambodia‘ by Asienreisender is now so far finished, particularly illustrated. Occasionally it will be updated, so it’s worth to have a look there from time to time if you are interested in what’s going on in Cambodia.

The reason why I focus on the website Asienreisender instead of this blog is because the website gives me full control over the design, while I have only very limited control over the appearance of this blog.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

An Introduction to Contemporary Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , on July 23, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Cambodia is in the world mostly known for it’s tourist attractions of Angkor Wat and the other grand temple complexes of the medieval Khmer empire. In fact did the Angkorean empire coin the Southeast Asian peninsula culturally until today; particularly Siam / Thailand took much of the Angkorean traditions over and maintains many of them still now. The Angkorean age between 802 CE (Common Era, replacing Anno Domini (AD)) and 1431 CE therefore represents the classical era of Southeast Asia.

In the aftermath of the grand time Cambodia lost power totally and came under severe pressure of it’s two new emerging neighbours, Siam / Thailand in the west and Vietnam in the east. In the 19th century Cambodia almost ceased to exist; most historians agree that without the French interference the country would have been shared between Siam and Vietnam.

In the 20th century the small and weak country was pulled into the American Vietnam War against it’s will and suffered the fiercest consequences, the total destruction of it’s infrastructure, a complete civil breakdown and genocide. The barbarious Khmer Rouge regime executed the educated part of the population except the few who could escape the country.

The contemporary Cambodian society is built up from scratch, still suffering the consequences of the genocide and is on the developing level of early capitalism. Particularly the lack of educated people and the maintainance of an authoritarian, hierarchical society keeps Cambodia down. In fact the Khmer Rouge came away with genocide and their networks still occupy the administrative key positions. The ongoing Khmer Rouge Tribunal gives a very poor impression to the observer. Corruption is rampant. Education is a long-term process and not achievable due to the investment of however much money into a conventional education system like schools and universities. Education, being more than the breeding of (one-track) specialists, requires generations to develop, includes the transfer from long-term experiences from parents to children.

In a global society focused on total competition, from the individuals up via corporations to states fighting for their positions on the world market, a country which development was interrupted so severe is in our times no more able to catch up with the much advancer competitors. On the contrary do we observe the decline of the leading western industrialized countries down to the level of third world societies under the conditions of advanced globalization and a structural capitalist crisis. The prospect for the Cambodian society towards a better future are therefore against zero.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Health in Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Since the hygienic standards are so low in Cambodia it’s important to have an eye on food cleanliness. The food stalls in Cambodia are of dubious hygienic quality. Best to eat only at places where many other guests go, then the food is rather fresh and it shows that many locals show trust in the place. Better eating to less than catching a disease. It’s a good country for having a diet.

Most of the occuring health problems in Cambodia are the usual suspects: diarrhoea, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus and polio.

The most scary tropical disease is probably malaria, at least it’s in everybodies mind who travels here and still there is no satisfying prophylaxis for it. Another, not less bad disease transferred by mosquitoes is dengue fever; it comes in four different variations and there is no prophylaxis neither a treatment for it. Chikungunya is kind of a variation of dengue, a ‘new’ disease. Malaria occurs everywhere in the tropes, in the last years it’s even coming (back) to western countries. Another very bad mosquito transferred disease is the Japanese encephalitis, a brain inflammation which ends mostly lethal or at least with severe handicaps afterwards. The rural parts of Cambodia are more likely malaria and dengue infested than Phnom Penh and the province capitals, but again, it appeares everywhere.

Rabies is an untreatable disease transferred by bites from mostly dogs or sometimes cats. It’s in almost 100% of the cases lethal. A prophylaxic vaccination is possible and advisable for people who stay for longer in Cambodia or generally in Southeast Asia.

HIV / AIDS is meanwhile widespread in Cambodia. Transfer is possible by sexual contacts, blood transfusions, tatoos and used syringes.

More potential diseases are bird flu, tuberculosis (many more cases here than in western countries) and bilharzia (schistosomiasis, as a result of swimming in freshwater lakes or rivers).

The health situation in Ratanakiri is the worst in whole Cambodia. All the mentioned diseases and more are endemic in Ratanakiri, and the province has the highest rate of child and general mortality in the country. Around 23% of the children there die before getting five years old. The diseases come together with a lack of fresh water supplies and malnutrition, great poverty, poor infrastructure of all kind particularly medical care, cultural and social barriers between the local hill tribe people of the Khmer Loeu and the majority Khmer People and deprivation due to land grabbing, destruction of the natural environments and violent displacements.

The situation in the neighbouring Mondulkiri Province looks similar.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Food in Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by Thim Kwai

In food quality and variety Cambodia can not cope with it’s western neighbour Thailand, which cuisine is clearly among the most delicious and versatile in the world. The common restaurants and food stalls, particularly the ones on the Cambodian markets, look mostly very poor, basic, neglected and pretty dirty. The restaurants are normally populated with masses of flies who are attracted by the lack of cleanliness, particularly by the food remains who are splashed around.

It’s always pretty difficult for me to find a restaurant where it looks half way well, at least outside of the tourist sector. The touristic restaurants give a better impression on the first glance – if the food is really better and the kitchens cleaner is another question. Only one thing is sure: the prices there double, triple or quadruple up.

It has to be considered that the quality of the food in general varies much. There is good food available, say rice and vegetables and various dishes made from it. Many dishes are too fat respectively oily, though. A great deal of the available food is fried in cheap oils with a high amount of cholesterol. The meat is not seldom very old and of doubious sources. Particularly what is sold as pork can be whatever – worm, snake, rat, dog, cat… – difficult to identify. Since many locals eat anything, they don’t mind. It’s actually a good reason to become a vegetarian. Another good reason for that would be just to watch carefully how the animals here are treated.

Generally is the Cambodian cuisine based on fish as a protein source. Chicken is relatively seldom to get and it is pretty expensive (I found it five times as expensive as in Thailand, and the quality therefore lower). Pork and beef in the market stalls are laid out openly, roughly displayed on wooden banks or desks, waiting there over hours or whole days for a buyer. In the meantime the notorious masses of flies besiege it, and bypassing dogs or cats might put their snouts on it before being dispelled by the saleswoman.

Since there is more food available in Cambodia than in the poor times just a few years ago, many locals tend to eat too much. Presumably it’s also still a status symbol to get fat. Anyway, overweight is widespread here meanwhile, what wasn’t so in recent years. Too much fat, oil, sugar, salt make an unhealthy food habit; highly processed industrial food is also known for it’s addictive contents.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Criminality & Safety in Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Cambodia is a country with widely empovered masses of people. Anomie is everywhere and the country has a long tradition of authoritarianism and brutalization. The crime rate is therefore high and one should be aware here of the main risks, including that of traffic or other accidents.

Most of the criminal issues are petty criminality like ‘snatch and grab’ robberies, mostly committed by bypassing motorbikes to other road users or to people who put valuables on tables in restaurants and so on. But also burglaring and armed robberies occur and sometimes murders. Many people have guns and other weapons and it doesn’t matter if it is a Cambodian or a foreigner, a life means little in Cambodia. On the other hand is the homicide rate in Cambodia with 3.4 murders per year per 100,000 people clearly lower than in neighbouring Thailand or the USA (both at 4.8 / year / 100,000 people).

It’s remarkable how careful the local people are locking their houses and flats. All the windows are usually equipped with an iron grid, and hotel and guesthouse staff warns guests frequently of people who might try to grab valuables with their hands or sticks through an open window with a grid when such belongings are in range. Also upper floors are mostly protected with barbed wires etc. to protect rooms, balconies, upper terraces etc. from climbing thieves.

Many rural parts of Cambodia are not under control of the police. Walking around after sunset is much more dangerous than in daytime. The waterfront of Sihanoukville is known as a particularly dangerous stretch – tourists happened to be robbed or even murdered there, already. Sihanoukville is counted anyway as one of the most dangerous places in Southeast Asia, and a number of westerners were murdered there in the last years. Some of them might have been involved in obscure businesses, but others defenitely not. Banditry even on more frequented overland roads can happen after sunset.

One should also be aware of pickpockets who are mostly active at places where many people are around as market places, bus stations, tourist sites etc. Sometimes such guys approach very friendly and touch their victims in a way like placing a hand on one’s shoulder to distract him from picking somewhat out of the pocket.

ATM fraud happens reportedly sometimes. Anyhow the card data are spyed out and unauthorized transactions are made afterwards. Also raids after leaving an ATM can happen. It’s always a good idea to have an eye open before entering an ATM and to check if it is maybe under observation by other parties.

I just mention fraud, scams, lying and cheating besides, for these include usually minor crimes compared with the ones mentioned above. Cheating happens in many varying cases every day. To lie is part of all day life. Important matters have always to been proved. Some scams can turn out very dangerous, though.

Traffic provides a permanent risk for anybody, since almost all Cambodian drivers drive obviously carelessly and, as I often saw, intentionally risky (see also the chapter ‘Traffic‘ above). It seems that nobody cares for any rules of safety here, it’s all under the law of the strongest, so particularly motorbike accidents are a threat, but also car, bus and boat accidents. Pedestrians should be very careful, because there are only few sidewalks and they are not safe, either. Motorbikes and cars drive on them. Besides they are frequently blocked with parking vehicles, foodstalls, shops, workshops, piles of rubbish or interrupted by building sites or deep holes.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are in some rural parts of the country a threat, particularly for local peasants and playing kids. Hiking tourists face a certain risk when leaving the tracks; that could also include walks over rice paddies. Particularly Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces are partially contaminated.

Along the Cambodian – Thai border at Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and the Banteay Ampil district of Banteay Meanchey province were and are sometimes armed incidents between Thai and Cambodian armed forces. The border there is partially under dispute. Also these border areas are partially contamined with land mines.

It’s said that police officers at police stations sometimes charge foreigners 20, 50 or 100 dollars for filing a report. In reverse they do nothing for the victim to get his or her belongings back. I wouldn’t trust at all into the competence of any policeman here.

For foreigners who get deeper involved into Cambodia as residents and start dealing here in business affairs or buying real estate they will highly probable face unexpected difficulties. Business disputes can lead to harsh and violent actions by local business ‘partners’.

Another point to mention here are the medical facilities and hospitals in Cambodia. There is practically no reliable, qualified hospital, doctor, staff etc. in Cambodia who meet western or anyhow reasonable standards. In case of ending up in a Cambodian hospital the chance is high to leave it in a worse state than entering it. The closest alternative one has is to go to neighbouring Thailand; particularly in Bangkok are good clinics and hospitals.

When getting medical care in Cambodia or elsewhere in Southeast Asia the medical institution will ask for cash immediately.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Cambodia’s Ecology

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2013 by Thim Kwai

A great problem in Cambodia is deforestation. In the last 40 years a major part of the formerly huge tropical rain forests has been cut or burned. In 1970 Cambodia was covered by 70% with tropical rain forest, what was decreased to 3.1% in 2007. That makes the highest deforestation rate in the world. That is partially due to legal and more illegal logging for the export into the neighbouring countries of Thailand and Vietnam, partially for the errection of huge cash crop plantations as rubber, cashew nut and more. The process is rapidly ongoing.

(See also the report on the Ratanakiri Page on deforestration there)

Although the Cambodian government officially put laws in power for protecting the environment, these laws in reality mean little or nothing. Corruption opens ways for logging activities. Critics and rangers who take forest protection serious get not seldom intimidated, attacked and sometimes killed.

A recent example are the Kardamom Mountains, where 20,000 hectares of the rain forest are planned to be destroyed for another hydroelectric dam project at the Areng River in the Areng Valley. As always in such cases a great number of (rare) animals (like the Siam Crocodile, of which only a few hundred individuals survived in the wild and the Asian Elephant together with 277 other animal species of whom are 31 threatened) and plants are threatened, as well as nine villages of the local mountain tribe of the Khmer Daeum (translatable to ‘original Khmers’). Operator is the Chinese Guodian Corporation. The Kardamom Mountains are one of the last bigger refuges for wildlife and nature and the area is part of a protected National Park. The construction of the dam with the infrastructural attributes like roads will lead to the usual secondary effects as poaching, illegal logging and more and more building activities.

Appraisal reports show that the construction of the dam would even be inefficient in it’s economical outcome and it’s power production. Other companies, who planned a similar dam project in the region withdrew their plans for these reasons.

By the way, the organisation ‘Rainforest Rescue’ started a petition to be sent to the Guodian Corporation and the Cambodian Government. You find the link here:

https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/mailalert/917/cambodia-stop-the-flooding-of-the-cardamom-forest

Another example of how little protection and National Parks mean is the Bokor National Park. Here, on a high plain in the forested mountains is a new city with housing for a 100,000 people and a complete infrastructure including ‘pleasure’ accommodations like huge hotels with casinos under construction.

The mangrove forests along the coastlines fall victim to coalmaking and shrimp farms. Consequences of the deforestation are soil erosion and the change of local climates. The soil erosion leads to unfertile land and to sedimentation of lakes and rivers.

The depth of the Tonle Sap Lake (the greatest lake in Indochina) decreased between 1960 and 1993 from an average of 50cm in dry season to 30cm. The Tonle Sap is part of the Mekong River ecosystem; the four or five dams built in recent years at the upper Mekong in China (where the Mekong is called ‘Lancang River’) demand their tribute. Also, the Mekong River transports great amounts of sediments sourcing out of the deforested areas of it’s catchment area.

The Mekong dams far up in China have additionally an impact on the richness in fish, because they are cutting off migratory fish species from their spawning areas. A much greater impact will follow due to the ongoing construction of the Sanyabury dam in Laos.

Officially are 25% of Cambodias territory under natural protection. But again, in fact this protection means little and does not deserve it’s name.

Cambodia also is one of the dirty, the very dirty countries. Litter is dropped everywhere. The market places are usually the ugliest places in the towns where masses of rubbish come together and are piled up. Almost everywhere where people live, litter is around. The litter, consisting of plastic of all kind, engine oil remains, electronics rubbish and also food remains, is a phantastic hotbed for vermins. Among them are flies. Flies in masses. Amounts of flies who darken the sky.

That makes hygiene a serious matter in Cambodia. Food hygiene in the verymost of the restaurants, including the ‘better’ ones (means more expensive, equipped with better furniture) is in the majority of the cases not even given on a basic level. The bad habit of most of the Cambodian people to spit food remains out onto the ground and generally litter everything they want to get rid of on the ground just where they are at the moment, is not only optically bad looking but feeds flies, cockroaches and other vermins.

The increasing amounts of plastic waste (bags, bottles, covers etc.) are a big problem. One-way plastic covers are generally a very bad solution for they waste first resources and second cause a problem in disposal. There is no ‘professional’ solution for waste disposal, so the plastic ends up in the green and on the streets, sporadically burned by the local authorities on dump sites outside the towns or burned in little garden fires by local people.

Apart from these impacts the air is of good quality in most of Cambodia, except Phnom Penh, because there are no big industries to pollute it. The same is said about the water in the most rivers; it’s quality is comparably good. Questionable is the usage of pesticides in agriculture and it’s hidden poisons.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

The Human Rights Situation in Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , on July 18, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Human Rights Watch writes in it’s Cambodia section that the human right situation in the country deteriorated in 2012 with a “surge in violent incidents, as the ruling CPP (Cambodias People’s Party) prepared for national elections.” Primeminister Hun Sen announced he would remain in office until he will be 90 years old – means for another 30 years. Recently Hun Sen added, if he and his CPP wouldn’t win the 2013 elections, there would be civil war in Cambodia, which also would involve neighbouring countries.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (Cambodian National Rescue Party) went into exile in France due to a politically motivated trial, being sued to 12 years jail. At least 35 other activists who fought for human rights, against land-grabbing or for better working conditions “were killed, wounded, arbitrarily arrested, threatened with arrest or kept in exile by CPP-led security forces and the CPP-controlled judiciary.” (Human Rights Report Cambodia).

Powerfull international companies together with national security institutions undertake land-grabbing in a great style. This land-grabbing is focussing on the last remaining tropical rain forests for utilization of timber and, in a second step, to change the landscapes into rubber, cashew nut or other kind of plantations. A May 2013 ‘global witness’ report called “Rubber Barons”, (free download at http://www.globalwitness.org) elaborates the involvement of international participants into land-grabbing practices in Laos and Cambodia, including the Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financing arm of the World Bank.

Local communities, who don’t even get informed that the land they are living on since generations is getting transformed until the caterpillars appear, face violence when refusing to move out.

Labour unrest in the textile industries and oppression and violent, including deadly incidents caused by security institutions occur not seldom.

The investigation of additional Khmer Rouge suspects involved in the Pol Pot’s regime commited crimes (Khmer Rouge Tribunal, ‘ECCC’) is continuously hindered and foiled by Cambodian judicial officers. “Kasper-Ansermet, an investigating judge nominated by the United Nations secretary-general, claimed that government interference and lack of cooperation made it impossible for him to do his job” (Human Rights Watch).

Cambodia operates ten ‘Drug Detention Centers’ in the country. Alleged drug users can be undertaken a compulsary treatment for up to two years, according to a December 2011 law. These centers are run by different government agencies, including security forces. Former detainees reported about abuses up to torture who happen in these places.

Human trafficing in a great style, protected or backed by police or government officials, is another big issue. Many of the victims, mostly children and young women, got sold by family members into prostitution networks or abroad (e.g. Malaysia).

The judiciary system is clearly not independent but corrupt, inefficient and mostly controlled by the CPP.

The international community does little respectively nothing to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia. Human Rights are for the western democracies merely a lever for regime changes in countries where the dictator (or sometimes the fairly elected democratic leader) doesn’t play the game they and the corporations behind them want to be played. But, it seems business with Hun Sen’s Cambodia is running fairly good, so far.

In Cambodia’s case, on the contrary, China, Vietnam and the USA provides active security assistance in the form of training and equipment of Cambodian security forces. While the first two don’t show any commitment to human rights anyway, the USA traditionally take it easy when it comes to business. The USA here and there pay lip-services for human rights, though.

Japanese, South Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese investments, sometimes interfered with economic aid, don’t implement any conditions for community participation. Here may even be the contrary the case in many projects, means the displacement of local people might be a condition for a certain investment.

Under these circumstances there is little hope for a better future. An improvement of the human rights situation in Cambodia would mean a deep and thorough change not only of the politics of the country, but also of the international community.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Censorship in Cambodia

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , on July 15, 2013 by Thim Kwai

On the annual world press freedom index of ‘Reporters Without Borders’ the Southeast Asian countries all rank more or less low. The ‘freest’ countries in this sense are among the European Democracies as Finnland, the Netherlands, Norway and a few others. Cambodia ranks in 2013 on 143 out of 179 listed countries. It dropped compared to 2012 for 26 ranks down.

The Cambodian constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, press freedom, freedom of publication and freedom of assembly. In reality this legislation means little or nothing.

Almost all the Cambodian medias are owned by political parties or persons who are close to a political party – the concentration is clearly in the hands of the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP). All the eight TV-stations are connected to the CPP. Very few radio broadcasters can be seen as politically neutral. Therefore the information is tinted by the interest of the government. Critical reports are rare, oppositional medias are under pressure and intimidation. Their number shrinked considerably in the years since 2008. Self-censorship happens as a result.

The professional level of journalism is generally on a low level in Cambodia. The tone is frequently very aggressive, insults happen in many cases. In the last ten years there have been about ten journalists killed; foreign observers blame the government for being behind the killings. In none of the cases one of the committers has been hold responsible. In other cases journalists have been arrested.

In a 2009 poll of the human rights organization ‘Licadho’ 52% of the interviewed Cambodian journalists said they have been threatened with physical violence at least for one time.

Governmental influence on the freedom of media are often justified by maintaining the national security and stability, although it is not backed by the Cambodian laws. National security is not precisely defined by the law, though, it seems to be when the government can do what it want, without control or critique.

In June 2013, while the July 28 election campaign was running, foreign broadcasters as ‘Voice of America’ and ‘Radio Free Asia’ were banned to report in Khmer language on campaign matters. This edict was reversed again later after severe protest, particularly from the USA.

It seems now that the internet comes more and more into the focus of governmental surveillance. The internet is a growing power and offers manyfold opportunities to publish critical content. The official justification for controlling the internet is always the ‘public moral’: pornography and games could harm children…

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender