“PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It’s election season in Cambodia, and the fireflies are out.
Cambodians use that term — “ampil ampik,” in the Khmer language — to refer to little-known political parties that flash onto the scene shortly before an election, then fade back into obscurity.
Twenty parties, some just a few months old, will be on the ballot when national elections are held this month. But most voters will have heard of only one: the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister.
Mr. Hun Sen has had no viable opposition since November, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which almost won the 2013 election — was dissolved by a court packed with his loyalists. The United Nations special rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, and numerous rights groups have said the July 29 vote will not be legitimate.
In response, the government points to such obscure entities as the Dharmacracy Party, the Khmer Will Party and the New Light Party (whose platform is to promote “Cambodia’s natural, linguistic and alphabetical wonders”).
“If you have only one political party, you cannot say ‘multiparty,’ but we have 20 political parties,” said Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the National Election Committee.
Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, is clearly concerned that Cambodians will see it differently. In May, he warned against using the terms “fireflies” or “disembodied ghosts,” another figure of speech sometimes applied to minor parties.”
Source: As Vote Nears, Cambodia’s Leader Has Opponents, but No Competition – The New York Times
Excellent reporting by Julia Wallace, thank you. She wrote: “The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or C.N.R.P., have been jailed or driven into exile, and lower-ranking members were harassed into joining Mr. Hun Sen’s party or getting out of politics. Mr. Hun Sen has also overseen a crackdown on the press. The United States and the European Union, which have helped fund past Cambodian elections, refused this year, saying that the vote will not be credible.” What a sorry picture, and a sorry mess. Unfortunately, the United States contributed to this mess, in ways that I am not qualified to list, but include our bombing of the country, and probably assassinating its leaders, even their good ones, just because they were communist. Is there a good book to cover the modern devastation of this once proud and vibrant country?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
The world’s largest refugee camp, a temporary home to more than half a million people that sprawls precariously across barren hills in southeastern Bangladesh, faces a looming disaster as early as April when the first storms of the monsoon season hit, aid workers warn. “It’s going to be landslides, flash floods, inundation,” said Tommy Thompson, chief of emergency support and response for the World Food Program. “It’s going to be a very, very challenging wet season. That’s if we don’t have a cyclone.”
“But then, in a matter of weeks, as refugees poured in by the tens of thousands, trees were hacked away. Canals were dug. Bamboo-and-tarp shacks went up. More trees were cut as refugees scrambled to find firewood.
The hills, where elephants recently roamed, are now bare. Even the roots have been pulled out, leaving nothing to hold the parched soil together as rainwater washes downhill, potentially taking tents and people with it and quickly inundating low-lying settlements. The United Nations says 100,000 refugees are at acute risk from landslides and floods.
The early rains — known in Bengali as kalboishakhi, which translates loosely as the storms of an “evil summer” — are a precursor to the full-on monsoons. They strike when the soil is still dry and especially susceptible to mudslides. The only warning of their approach is usually hot winds that send the dry earth of summer swirling through the air.”
Source: The Biggest Refugee Camp Braces for Rain: ‘This Is Going to Be a Catastrophe’ – The New York Times
DL: It is too bad that these 600,000 Rohingya refugees were forced or allowed to deforest the area they were placed in. Now they have turned that piece of dessert into a probable death camp when the monsoon rains appear. I need firewood now, versus, I need these trees to prevent flooding later, is a choice I hope that I never have to make.
A loris is rescued from a restaurant in Đồng Nai Province. – Photo courtesy of ENVViet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – At least 72 wild animals were released in their natural habitat in the first month of the year, according to Education for Nature Việt Nam (ENV).They include pangolins, monkeys, turtles, lizards, lorises and birds. Some of these animals were rescued by people and some by police after busting cases of animal trafficking.Illegal breeding of wild animals in homes and restaurants have been prevalent in the country. Many such cases were found out through ENV’s hotline number 18001522, ENV representatives said.On January 16, competent forces in southern Đồng Nai Province’s Thống Nhất District freed two lorises which were kept in a cage for show at a rest stop.
A monkey was rescued from a coffee shop in Đà Nẵng City and was released in Sơn Trà nature reserve centre on January 19.
Source: 72 wild animals rescued in January – Environment – Vietnam News | Politics, Business, Economy, Society, Life, Sports – VietNam News
“Cleaned the house? Made the Kitchen Gods happy? Busy making cakes? Then you’re on the right track to a great Lunar New Year or Tet!
The cleaning is not just about starting the new year on the right foot. Apparently Vietnamese believe that luck clings to dirt and dust, so when Tet comes you are collecting the ‘new luck’ of the new year. It’s also why they don’t usually sweep the house during the first four days of the lunar year! It’s probably the best excuse I’ve ever heard of being lazy about housecleaning!
Have you got your Vietnamese phrase memorized yet? ‘Chuc Mung Nam Moi’ is roughly spoken like ‘Chook Muung Nam Mooi (‘oi’ sound)’. It doesn’t matter about what the gold and red banners are saying, it’s pretty obvious – mostly making wishes for the coming year.
Keep in mind that the actual holiday stretches out over 1 day before and about 3 to 5 days after the real date (the 16th of February) so lots of shops, banks, and importantly, visa offices will close earlier and re-open later. I often check with my local pubs and favorite shops about this so there are no nasty surprises.”
Source: Getting ready for Tet in Vietnam – Tuoi Tre News
“Electric cars remain something of a novelty, commanding premium prices and presenting charging challenges, but another kind of electric vehicle has been gaining momentum: the e-bike. Globally, electric cars — battery and plug-in hybrids — account for only about 1 percent of all vehicle sales, with about 1.15 million expected to be sold worldwide this year, according to EV-volumes.com. Compare that with the 35 million e-bikes expected to be purchased this year, according to Navigant, with countries like Ger. . . “
Source: A Tesla Too Pricey? E-Bikes Offer Entry-Level Electric Transportation – The New York Times
Admittedly, this article is not about Vietnam. But it is for Vietnam, and everywhere else.
Ban Nang was the first domesticated elephant in Đắk Lắk Province to become pregnant during the past 20 years. — Photo vietnamnet.vn
Viet Nam NewsĐắk Lắk — The first domesticated elephant in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk to become pregnant in 20 years delivered a stillborn calf last Sunday, the Elephant Conservation Centre has reported.The male baby weighed around 90kg.The 38-year-old mother, Ban Nang, had gone into labour but did not deliver for long, veterinarians at the centre said.The animal is owned by Y Mứ Bkrông of M’Liêng village, Liên Sơn town.Huỳnh Trung Luân, director of the centre, said veterinarians had gone into the forest every day to check on the creature and foreign experts too had been on the job.Ban Nang had been released into the forest when it was six months pregnant so that it could give birth in the wild, he said.But the delivery had possibly been difficult because Ban Nang was too old and the centre’s veterinarians had no experience in caring for pregnant elephants, he said.
Source: 1st elephant baby in Đắk Lắk in 20 years is stillborn – Society – Vietnam News | Politics, Business, Economy, Society, Life, Sports – VietNam News