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Context & Connections

“But more and more people are finding their personal lives conducted inside the walled gardens of the Internet, on sites like Facebook, which is only accessible for registered users and among those one chooses to admit, disconnected from the entire Web.
This means it’s a comfortable, virtual space for people to meet with their old classmates, as well as to build and break relationships.” >>    
-An excerpt from a Voice of America article on online relationships by Tharum Bun.
Read in full at  www.voanews.com/khmer-english/news/

After a week of fighting that left at least 15 people dead, Cambodian and Thai generals finally agreed to a cease-fire on Thursday of last week. The comments of a Cambodian RCAF officer summed up the feelings of many Cambodians. “We find it hard to believe Thailand,” he said. “Our soldiers remain in position and on high alert at all times. ( 1 )” These comments also proved to be prescient when fighting broke out again on Sunday and another Cambodian soldier was killed.

It remains to be seen if the most recent clashes, and the deaths they caused, will motivate premieres Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen to come up with a lasting agreement to make peace between the two countries. The temporary cease-fire came a day after Hun Sen spoke publicly on the clashes for the first time, a speech where he called his Thai counterpart “cruel” and sent out a warning to Thailand. “Cambodia is poor and small, but our weapons are not like a slingshot, and don’t forget that the ant can hurt the elephant.”

This wasn’t the only warning that Hun Sen made last week, and it wasn’t the only one to be ignored. Despite the Prime Ministers plea that workers and activists avoid activities that might negatively impact “public order and society,” such as rallies and protests, thousands marched in Phnom Penh on Sunday to recognize international Labour day ( 2 ).

Yet, there were also signs that Hun Sen’s repeated calls for the dismissal of cases 03 and 04 will be followed, as investigating judges announced the conclusion of their investigations  ( 3 ).

Away from the political arena, Hollywood megastar Angelina Jolie ( 4 ), who has an adopted Cambodian son, arrived in Cambodia last week. Her plans while in the Kingdom were not made public, but it was reported that she was in the Kingdom to shoot an advertising spot for fashion label Louis Vuitton.

Already quite strong, economic ties with Vietnam were boosted last week ( 5 ), with a number of multi-million dollar business deals being signed. A major beneficiary was the agro-business sector ( 6 ), which was also the focus of positive reports coming from the microfinance sector . Chea Phalarin, President of Amret Microfinance said his sector is expanding “with the increase of new businesses in the provinces and the strength in agriculture.”

The people who will benefit most from investment in agriculture, hopefully, are rural populations ( 7 ), but agriculture is one of many aspects of life in the countryside that must be addressed. Lagging progress in the countryside is at the centre of Sun Narin’s cover story on rural brain drain. Along with shedding light on the problem of students staying in Phnom Penh upon graduating ( 8 ), we also recognize young Cambodian’s who have returned to rural areas to facilitate development in various ways.

Our constructive Cambodian column this issue discusses the issue of Cambodian women marrying foreign men, and the dangers that come with a leaving the country for a married life ( 9 ) abroad. Our eater extraordinaire Tang Khyhay is back this week with a review of Napoli, a brand new, and relatively affordable, pizza parlour (10) in Phnom Penh.

Thanks for your texts, emails and messages last week. If you have an important idea, an interesting photo, or an enlightening lesson to share with our readers, send it along. Most importantly, let us know how we can keep you interested in Lift!

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