Category Archives: Features

Archive Could Help Provide Answers to Khmer Rouge Mysteries

Neou Vannarin/VOA Khmer

October 01, 2015

Phnom Penh—Chhang Youk, the head of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, was busy last week unloading box after box of declassified material, donated by the former personal assistant of late King Norodom Sihanouk. He says that the documents hold answers related to atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge nearly two decades ago.

Julio Jeldres, who was Norodom Sihanouk’s biographer, donated his archive to the Documentation Center, which researches Khmer Rouge atrocities, to help researchers now and in the future understand the regime.

Chhang Youk says the documents are an important part of Cambodian history, helping people understand how Cambodia’s ethnic majority Khmer turned on one another in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

The archive has documents from the time Cambodia gained independence from France, in 1954, through the civil war, the rise of the Khmer Rouge, and its fall, in 1979. Its subjects range from secret papers concerning the contentious Preah Vihear temple, on the Thai border, to the Khmer Rouge’s relationships with North Vietnam and China. It also includes films written and directed by Norodom Sihanouk.

“Yes, all of the documents are of the confidential kind,” Chhang Youk says. “Telegraphs, documents, communications between heads of state, such as China, Australia, Indonesia, North Vietnam and Korea, which talk about the politics and situations in our Motherland, especially the relationship between China and the Khmer Rouge in the last stage.”

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More than 1.7 million people died under the Khmer Rouge, in less than four years. The root cause of so much violence remains much a mystery to many Cambodians. Chhang Youk says he hopes the documents will help fill in the gaps in existing research.

Continue reading Archive Could Help Provide Answers to Khmer Rouge Mysteries

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The Forgotten Artist

(Hong Kong) Below is a short documentary film I directed a month ago. We spent less than three weeks to complete the film regarding time availability. Please keep in mind that this video version is not the final editing version, there are few things to be edited. The film is about the struggling of a local Hong Kong artist and disappearing of Hong Kong’s folk art identities.

About the documentary film:

Back to nine months ago, I met a 61-year-old folk artist, Mak Wing, at an ancestral hall in Ping Shan heritage complex. The man was sitting quietly upon statues of earth gods, focusing on his restoration works.

He placed mustache and beard on statues carefully before painting them to the original color, which took him a few months to finish all restoration works.

This is not his first restoration works. For the past decades, he has been working on many different forms of arts in Hong Kong including Chinese painting, calligraphy, seal carving, large public murals, and restoration of Hong Kong’s old temples.

Mr. Mak Wing had his first drawing since he was 7 years old. By mid 1970s, Mr. Wing had further his study in drawing and graphic design in Hong Kong. He traveled around Mainland China in 1980s to explore folk art, researching on different clans’ culture, living, mural, lacquer work, and batik.

He spent over 6 months in Kyoto in 1982 to learn the different development of oriental art in Japan; he also painted and learned a lot about Japanese folk arts.

Unfortunately, very few people acknowledge and appreciate his arts works, while Hong Kongers enjoy the growth and modernization.

With less support from the government and attention from Hong Kong people, most of Mr. Mak’s friends and folk artists from his generation had gradually changed their professions. Only a handful of Hong Kong folk artists commit to keep on their jobs.

Mr. Mak took any side jobs to make him and family survived along with his profession for the past thirty years.

Worst thing is worst; his art restoration work is now paying him less because of the immigration labors from Mainland China.

The employer pays only HKD600 per day for his restoration work, which is less than 50% of payment make by a construction worker in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Goes Higher for Farming

December 06, 2013

(Hong Kong) While skyscrapers have taken over the majority of productive land in Hong Kong, some young Hong Kong citizens are going higher to create their own private farms.

“It’s a place for growing. For me, it’s kind of a place to escape, relax, and take care the garden,” said a 31 year-old business consultant Anthony Ko, who spends most of his weekends taking care of his model rooftop farm in Yau Ma Tei, a bustling business district of Hong Kong.

Anthony Ko is one of the four young co founders of Hong Kong Farm, a non-profit rooftop farming project in Hong Kong, which conducts regular workshops to train Hong Kong people in farming techniques and teach them how to make use of their available rooftop space.

Established two years ago, the Hong Kong Farm project is one of a few successful rooftop farming projects that aim to introduce modern urban farming to Hong Kong and promote awareness of organic farming to modern young people in Hong Kong.

“The idea is to connect people to nature,” said Mr Ko, adding that young people in such a big city have very few opportunities to experience nature and the way that farmers work.

The population of Hong Kong reached 7.15 million last year, but the vast majority of the city’s food supplies are imported from mainland China and other countries.

According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong has over 2,500 farms, but they are able to supply only 2 percent of the fresh vegetables in local markets, while over 98 percent were imported.

Therefore, the Hong Kong government and the private sector have been working to promote awareness of organic farming and local products.  

AFCD has also encouraged Hong Kong farmers to turn to organic farming and seek other means to extend their farming activities. By June 2013, according to a report from AFCD, Hong Kong had over 460 organic farms.

The University of Hong Kong has become one of many private entities to promote local farming. The Rooftop Farming Project, which has been planting crops since June, was officially launched last month to promote the idea of sustainable development and organic farming to students.

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With just plastic boxes and compost soil, many vegetables—including salad greens, tomatoes, herbs and bitter melons—can been grown. The vegetables in the university’s project are now growing so well that they have entirely taken over the broad concrete floor of the Runme Shaw building in a massive swath of green leaves and stems. Continue reading Hong Kong Goes Higher for Farming

Rainbow Rocks Hong Kong Busy Streets

November 10, 2013

(Hong Kong) Dressed in red and rainbow garb, thousands of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people and their supporters marched through Hong Kong’s busy streets on Saturday to demand equal rights in society and stop discrimination again LGBTs.

The parade was led by the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Dr. York Chow Yat-ngok, bearing a roughly 50-meter-long rainbow flag, which represents equal rights for sexual minorities in the society. It took over three hours for the group to complete their parade from the busy streets of Causeway Bay’s Victoria Part to the heart of Hong Kong’s government zone, Admiralty’s Tamar Park.

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“Again and again, governments from everywhere are trying to stop us from speaking out, so we must unite and stand together to have our voice,” said one of the organizers, who took to the stage to rouse participants ahead of Saturday’s parade. “Say no to discrimination and no to injustice!” Continue reading Rainbow Rocks Hong Kong Busy Streets

Hong Kong TV Protest Gets Greater Support

Oct 30, 2013

(Hong Kong) An ongoing protest against the government’s decision to reject Hong Kong Television’s license found significant support from celebrities and politicians yesterday.

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As night fell on the fifth day of protesting, over ten thousands of people, including a British pop singer and politicians, arrived at a plaza in front of the Hong Kong government center yesterday to give their strong support and inspire the protestors.

Thousands of people and ex-staff members of the TV station have staged their mass protest since Sunday to call for the government to explain why HKTV’s license application was rejected on Oct. 15. Over 300 of the station’s approximately 700 staff members were laid off shortly after the TV station failed in its bid for a license from the government.

Neither the government nor HKTV’s chairman, Ricky Wong Wai-kay, provided an explanation of why the license was not granted. Continue reading Hong Kong TV Protest Gets Greater Support

Hong Kong harbor race sees more participants and improvement in conditions

By Neou Vannarin

Oct 06, 2013

(Hong Kong) An annual swimming competition crossing Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor, the New World Harbor Race held this morning saw its largest number of participants ever, but pollution is still a major concern for swimmers, participants said.

Hong Kong Coastguard monitors swimmers, as they approach the final point.
Hong Kong Coastguard monitors swimmers, as they approach the final point.

At least 2,000 swimmers aged between 12 and 78 years old registered for this morning’s race, compared to only 1,800 swimmers last year, according to a press release from the event’s organizer, the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association.

Staring at the bright sea and anxiously waiting for her daughter to arrive at the finish line, Susana Lai said the preparations for the race had improved from previous years, the arrival area was larger and safer, the water was cleaner, and there were more participants.

“This is year is better. The arrival point is well prepared and safer compared to last year,” said a 42 year-old mother. “The water looks cleaner. Last year, my daughter got diarrhea and saw a doctor soon after her swimming.”

The swimming competition was established as the Cross-Harbor Race in 1906, but suspended for 32 years starting in 1979 due topolluted water, which caused health problems for swimmers. It was revived in 2011 under a new name. Continue reading Hong Kong harbor race sees more participants and improvement in conditions

Experts Say Suicide Reporting Should Be Regulated

By Neou Vannarin

Sept 13, 2013

(Hong Kong) Disrespectful and reckless suicide reporting encourages copycat cases and may ultimately result in a higher suicide rate, a group of specialists and the Hong Kong Press Council said early last week.

During a seminar on “The Contagion of Suicide Reporting” held at the University of Hong Kong late last week to launch a set of guidelines on suicide reporting, experts from HKU, the Press Council, and victims’ families said disrespectful reports and overwhelming coverage of suicides  in newspapers and social media often result in more suicide attempts.photo (2)

According to a press release provided to journalists after the seminar, 841 suicides took place in Hong Kong in 2012, up from 750 in 2011, which increased the suicide rate to 11.8 per 100,000 people in 2012 compared to 10.6 in 2011.

Dr Paul Yip, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Center for Suicide Research and Prevention, told the conference that in contravention of international best practices, the news media in Hong Kong have gone too far in their reporting and invaded the personal space of suicide victims and their families.

“If you look into the international practice, what you can see is that there is only one percent of suicide cases in Australia reported, whereas in Hong Kong, 37 percent of the suicides [are] being reported,” he said, adding that the worst thing is that information about suicide attempts and methods of committing suicide is now being distributed widely on the internet and social media, where the public can easily access it. This online information often originates in sensational print media reports, he said. Continue reading Experts Say Suicide Reporting Should Be Regulated