Wednesday, July 7, 2010

iKandy's Bio

Cambodian American model, nurse, and activist iKandy was born on March 28th 1982 near Washington DC to refugee parents. iKandy’s mother and father attempted to build a better life in the Washington DC area after fleeing Cambodia and barely escaping the genocide of the brutal Khmer Rouge Regime. The stress and unfamiliarity of American ways, customs and their past took a toll on the migrant family, and throughout her childhood iKandy found herself bearing the brunt of her parents’ rage and suffering.

During adolescence iKandy struggled to find a cultural niche, until 2000 when she graduated high school and declared emancipation from her parents. She quickly learned the hard way that success would only come if she grabbed life by the horns and steered in the direction of her dreams.

After gaining understanding of her nurturing and compassionate side iKandy graduated college with a degree in nursing. In 2006, having a solid education under her belt, iKandy decided to dabble in her dreams and began participating in the modeling industry. By 2008 she had established a solid career, and she moved to New Orleans in search of a missing passion and deeper meaning to her life. She soon encountered a muse, her urban photographer, who continues to inspire iKandy to keep in touch with her true self and to pursue inner beauty. This process of self-exploration and reflection led iKandy to long for an improvement in the lives of future generations of Cambodians and their families. She put her drive and compassion to good use and became a Cambodian Rights Activist.

iKandy strives to use modeling for a greater good, spreading awareness and fostering activism regarding the people and culture of Cambodia. She envisions an optimistic future for her parents’ country, a future where equality is protected, where cultural development is valued, and where freedom of expression is prized.

Within the past year iKandy’s good karma has finally caught up with her. She has been featured on over twenty websites, appeared in over six magazines and Ne-Yo’s music videos, and acted in various films alongside Hollywood A-listers Jason Statham, Ben Foster, and Brittany Murphy. Most recently iKandy was selected as a Seagram’s Model, and she will be featured in their 2011 calendar. She is involved with her own non-profit organization, Strengthening Cambodian Communities (SCC) Project and coordinating events with other non-profits such as Nomi Network, to help combat human trafficking on a global and local scale. With her incredible drive, overwhelming compassion, and astonishing beauty there is no doubt that the door to opportunity is only beginning to open. Still iKandy remains humbly excited about what lies to come.

Written by Team iKandy's Lyrical Genius - Lauren Siegel

Friday, June 25, 2010

iKandy Feature Artist of the Day

iKandy Feature Artist of the Day & Clothing Designer for Nomi Network's "Fashion For Freedom" fashion show proudly presents; young New Orleans clothing designer GeezyEff Celestine -

Garielle EFF, also known as Geezy Monroe, is a talented young artist at age 18, who is universal in her talent, also a part of #TeamiKandy, music, fashion, and overall art. Her biggest pride and joy is her clothing line "Liq0urish Clothing". Began in 2006, but officially took off in 2009. Liq0urish Clothing is a clothing line that's a voice through what you wear, saying things other people won't say out loud through fashion. As a young artist, she has her hands in a lot of things, but a promise to not disappoint in what she does IS something she'll keep.

Find more about Geezy at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iKandy Featured Artist of the Day - Nomi Network proudly presents "Fashion For Freedom" Guest Speaker Cambodian Canadian Sarorn Ron Sim

an award winning international cinematographer/photographer currently filming exclusively for a Fortune 50 U.S based company. On his down time however, a freelance with major television networks, NGO's, and agencies around the world. From television series to feature length documentaries, news essays to corporate image campaigns, he likes to work in genres that give a voice to those less vocal.

To date, he's traveled and filmed in over 35 countries, has shot programs that aired on Discovery Channel and National Geographic, and has covertly filmed in Pakistan and Afghanistan multiple times. Most recently, Sarorn has covered the devastating earthquake in Haiti, followed the River Ganges up to the Himalayas and trekked through the Borneo Jungles of Malaysia.

Aside from his academic and professional credentials in his field, and also undergone extensive training with members of the U.S Special Forces and British SAS on how to work and survive in hostile environment and areas of conflict.

For more information about this amazing artist and his work, please visit Sarorn's personal website:
To read his journal during his travels, please visit blog at:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thais Mills

iKandy and Nomi Network's "Fashion For Freedom" proudly presents Guest Host - Columnist / Poet / Artist / Entrepreneur Thais Mills of

With Hurricane Katrina demolishing her cozy family home, art studio and office in New Orleans, Thais (pronounced Ty-eece) resourcefully brought all of her time and talent to her online experience--- “My displaced Gulf Coast readers are literally all over the world, being interactive is the only way I can keep in touch with my supporters. is for them,” Mills shared on New Orleans television just four short months after the storm. And within four short years of quite likely the most traumatic experience of her life the passionate mind behind, is restructured and strategized only for success.

A blur of fairytale happenings make up the early chapters of Thais’ life. Though she first displayed artistic talent at age eleven, Thais Mills believes her birth name preconditioned her for the spotlight. Even Essence Editor, Susan Taylor confirmed that something-special in Thais by sharing thoughts on her “very interesting name,” when they met in Thais pre-teen years. Her poetic prowess was unveiled in the same season her then priest, now Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans told her to redirect her negative energy birthed by her parent’s messy divorce to positive actions. Thais’ first live poetry performance boasted audience members including music icon Stevie Wonder. Shortly after this larger than life recitation, Thais crossed paths with Susan Taylor once again and was honorably included in several of Essence Music Festival’s Empowerment Seminars.

Poetry aided in the materialization of two of her childhood dreams. Her first business, Da’ Poet’s Tree, LLC, was incepted before Thais turned 20 years old. Da’ Poet’s Tree provides a diverse catalog of over 2,000 poems. Thais has performed these eloquent poems on stage, in private screenings and personalized poetry projects.

Thais's first dot-com venture, Enticing Objects emerged spotlighting her hand painted crafts which today have expanded to include Office Art, Craft Magnets, Photo Clips and The Little Canvas Collections with charity beneficiaries attached. Developing her already savvy writing skills at Southern University in New Orleans, Thais began transposing her words in three prominent publications, Data News Weekly, Offline and Sisterhood Magazines in columns spanning from romance to entertainment. She now utilizes those skills on an eclectic portal which fuses her custom column creations with innovative celebrity interviews music and literacy education. smartly uses bookmarks as its marketing tool and to date more than 4 million bookmarks have been distributed across the globe.

The INK never stops for Ms. Thais Mills with the launch of LIVE (Summer ’10), a cutting edge open-mic event where a bookmark ( or a book ) is your ticket and all you’re asked to bring is an open mind. Thais plans to bring Bookmark Talk to New Orleans during the 2010 Holiday season to celebrate the kick-off of her charity organization which will host book drives twice a year to assist in re-stocking the elementary and high school libraries in her hometown. Wherever destiny takes Ms. Mills she will always stick to the path of her ultimate dream: using her captivating voice to aid in the growth of great books charities and brands.

find her on
twitter -@lipserviceink

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Fashion For Freedom" presents Guest Performer Cambodian American Singer BoChan

Bochan is quietly sowing the seeds of a Neo-Cambodian musical breakout movement. For years, most Cambodian music hasn't moved on from the style of the early 70s. There have been very few, if any, artists that have ventured outside of the traditional style and sound. The Cambodian Genocide during the “Killing Fields” lead to the murder of almost all of the progressive Cambodian musicians, as well as most of the poets, artists, and intellectuals. Four decades later, even in the US, Cambodians still tread lightly around the prospect of straying too far outside of the comfortable "norms" of musical expression.

In collaboration with Arlen Hart, Bochan has created a song “16” (Chnam Oun 16) that breaks out of it's traditional surf-rock timing and tempo, and is set to an uptempo dub reggae beat. The new arrangement of the song retains some of the textures and tones of the original Farfisa organ sounds. The lyrics are alternately sung in the original Khmer (Cambodian), and in English; augmented with the addition of her own verse that echoes the main theme of the song, which describes a Khmer woman coming of age. A verse by Oakland based Emcee, Raashan Ahmad of the Crown City Rockers, is interwoven into the song's structure, and brings home the final "we're not in Khmer-Kansas anymore" message to anyone who is comparing the song to the original.

Exactly how far has this song “16” strayed from the original? The story begins in the 1980s with Bochan and her family escaping Cambodia through the jungle at night, chased from the country by Khmer Rouge bullets. They immigrated to the United States in 1981 after seeking refuge in Thailand and the Philippines. Landing in NYC, they made their way to Ohio, Colorado, and finally San Francisco and Oakland. Bochan grew up singing in her father's numerous Cambodian rock bands during her family's travels around the US. That journey is alive today in the music, which has moved from rock roots to its current inception. Stepping out from the traditional style Bochan looks to enter a new musical age. Much like the girl in "16" she is coming into her own, both Khmer and American blending the best of both worlds.

Hear her single!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Featured Performer for "Fashion for Freedom"

Nomi Network "Fashion for Freedom" proudly presents one of our feature performers- Ranna Rithy Khut have been dancing since the age of four. Ranna has had formal training in ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, Cambodian Classical Dance and contemporary. Presently he is studying and teaching with the Cambodian Buddhist Society Cultural Group for the past 14 years. Ranna performed and competed in many dance functions or competitions in Maryland, Washington D.C. Virginia, New York and New Jersey. He has performed with the Cambodian Buddhist Society Cultural Group at the Kennedy Center, Constitution Hall, fund raising events, French Embassy, Ohio State University Asian Festival, Smithsonian, and more. Ranna dream and long-term goal is to build and be the founder of his own Multi-Cultural Performing Arts School.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with Nomi Network

Interview with Nomi Network!

MONDAY, MAY 24, 2010

Q & A with Karen Tep

You have multiple jobs. Tell us about them, and which do you like best and why?

I have three jobs. I am a nurse, and I also do modeling, under the name iKandy. Thirdly, I am the director of volunteers for a non-profit organization called Strengthening Cambodian Communities Project (SCC) that I co-founded with my partner in Australia, Tara Miller. I enjoy all three jobs; being a nurse enables me to rebuild lives, while modeling helps me obtain exposure that I need to spread awareness about Cambodia. Being a part of SCC is my true passion--to help Cambodia regain the glory that it once had.

Is that related to the work you’re doing with Nomi?

Yes. I am using my modeling notoriety and connections in the business to direct and coordinate the upcoming Nomi Network fashion show here in New Orleans, LA.

How did you hear about Nomi Network?

Stephen Bauer found me on Face Book and e-mailed me about Nomi Network and their ambitions.

What inspired you to get involved?

The same day that Stephen wrote me, I had been looking for ways that I could help. I was looking for anything related to human trafficking, especially sex slavery. I am passionate about that, especially in Cambodia.

What is the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome as a Cambodian woman?

My biggest obstacle has been to overcome the pain and anger that my parents inflicted on me as a child growing up in the States. The pain and anger of my parents was a result of the having to endure a great deal of suffering under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle in empowering women?

We need to get women to understand that they have the same rights as men. In foreign countries, when trying to help women empower themselves, we must first understand the culture and the values that the people abide by. However, we must also work to get men to understand that women have the same rights as men. In male dominated societies women tend to be looked upon with contempt and as mere objects. To teach women to be able to stand up to that will be a great feat.

- interview by Stephen Bauer

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Strengthening Cambodian Communities Project

Mission statement: - The Strengthening Cambodian Communities Project is a Non Government Organization founded in April 2010 by a small team of volunteers from Cambodia, Australia and USA. The aim of the foundation is to stop the cycle of poverty, disease and human trafficking by providing the necessary support required to help indiv...iduals and communities in Cambodia to acheive quality education, healthcare, business opportunites and emergency assistance.

Facebook Group Page!/group.php?gid=118688791478389&ref=mf

Website coming soon!!

Founder Tara Miller and Co-Founder iKandy

Friday, April 30, 2010

Nomi Network

I recently was contacted to get to know one of the leading NGO's that fight against human trafficking and sex slavery. This particular organization, creates jobs for rehabilitated women in a factory creating totes called "Buy My Bag Not My Body", not only do they provide over marketed paying jobs, but provides health care and day care for these women. To learn more and buy a bag please visit this website -

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Interview with Thais Mills

Ask Karen Tep who she is and listen for her to say... " More Than Rice ". Called iKandy / Asian Barbie her story makes you think about what a new model goes through in the unforgiving industry of beauty. Staying true to her Cambodian descent, IKandy manages to stay sweet in a business that turns so many sour.
After hearing Karen's rant about more Asian women needed on film / print I was impressed. YES, we do share the same hometown of New Orleans but that's not why I took her side, I did because I feel her pain. No Im not Asian but Im Plus Size and dont see anyone that looks like me when I watch videos. I know what iKandy is going through.
Which is why I pulled her to the side to ask 10 questions. Her answers are worth the read. To say thanks for iKandy's time I'll send gifts from my art store, -

1. Tell me how you got into modeling ?
I was in nursing school, and one of my fellow class mates was a former model and suggested that I get into it. I was interested but didn't decide to do it, until I kept getting comments about how I should model from strangers, plus nursing wasn't my dream, being a part of the entertainment industry is one of them.

2. You say Asian girls are never casted for principal roles in videos why do you think that is ?
I honestly think, it's because of the "image", how beautiful women should be portrayed, curvy would be one of the traits. Asian women, are usually not stereotyped as curvy, but hey, there are some of us out there that are! like me!

3. Who's next video do you want to be in and if YOU could write the treatment how would you star yourself ?
I was actually an extra in Ne-Yos Never Knew video - and yea, they cut me out. I wouldn't mind being in a fun type video, for example, Bed Rock by Lloyd etc, looked like they had a ton of fun! Believe it or not, I think I prefer being in videos with female musicians, like Beyonce or Katy Perry. But wouldn't mind working with Trey Songz or Jason Derulo.

4. Getting glammed up is the perk of your job, what make-up artist can you remember getting you all dolled up for a runway affair and what made him/her so friggin cool?

Brandy Gomez Duplessis has a wonderful and comforting personality. Easy to talk to. It was my first fashion show ever and it was for Austin Scarlett. So speaking to her and having her answer my questions was really comforting and calmed my nerves. Shes an amazing make up artist, and I am honored to have worked with her.

5. Do you feel foriegn models like Tila Tequila makes it easier or harder in the industry for you ?
Actually I feel that Tila has made some progress for other asian models, just the fact shes getting noticed, negatively but she accomplished what she wanted. More power to her. If there were 10 Tila Tequilas, then I would say maybe it would be harder because people already think Asians all look alike, now everyone is going to think we all act or talk alike too!

6. What's your favorite book and why ?
The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam. I love that book, because its an autobiography of a modern day heroine, who survived the Cambodian genocide, sex slavery and made the most out of life, by creating organizations to save children and women from this violent monstrosity committed by men in south east asia. She promotes awareness, and to me, thats a true leader.

7. How does your parents feel about you craving to be in music videos ?
My parents don't know! I have Asian parents, they would just die. I follow my own path. As much as I want to please them, I have to live my own life.

8. Seems like this really stresses you out, how do you relax ?
Nothing much stresses me out. I've been through a lot, and how I cope is through humor. I am a very goofy person to be around!

9. You've mentioned Black and Spanish girls always get casted but Plus Size and darker African American girls are normally left out as well. What do you say to them ?
That to be truly creative, you must break free from the box! And to my beautiful ladies that aren't casted, stay persistent to achieve your dream!

10. You can be scouted today and your life could change tomorrow what do you plan to achieve with your new found fame ?
My passion is to spread Cambodia Awareness- you can find me and my postings on my face book fan site. I post facts about poverty, sex slavery, human trafficking, history, the genocide, the architecture, the Temples, the dances,and the culture! I want to use my gift, not only for myself but to make the world as comfortable for others as it can be. Life is hard, why not share the wealth?

I'm sending you a gift from what's your favorite color ?
Blue - Lately its been blue, it changes ever so often, but I also love Gold.

Courtesy of LipServiceInk -

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Somaly Mam Foundation

Photo by Norman Jean Roy
The Somaly Mam Foundation is a nonprofit public charity committed to ending modern day slavery around the world.

Human trafficking, a multi-billion dollar industry, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. With over one million women and children sold into sexual slavery each year, it is a global crisis that must be stopped. More resources are critically needed to support the rescue and rehabilitation of these young victims.

Founded by sexual slavery survivor, Somaly Mam, the foundation supports rescue, shelter and rehabilitation programs across South East Asia, where the trafficking of women and girls, some as young as five, is a widespread practice. The Somaly Mam Foundation also runs global awareness and advocacy campaigns that shed light on the crime of sexual slavery and focus on getting the public and governments involved in the fight to abolish modern day slavery.

Our Vision: A world where women and children are safe from slavery.

Our Mission: To give victims and survivors a voice in their lives, liberate victims, end slavery, and empower survivors as they create and sustain lives of dignity.

Theary Sen - Courtesy of

Theary C. Seng in your own words can you give the reader a brief biography of yourself.

I am an American-Cambodian woman who has been greatly blessed with an amazing family (nuclear, extended, adopted and otherwise), great friends (seasonal and lifelong), inspirational figures and personalities (whom I’ve met in person or from the pages of great literature), exceptional experiences (past, present) and abounding opportunities challenging, enfolding, uplifting me.

I am a fellow traveler on life’s fleeting sojourn—having traversed Phnom Penh in the early 1970s; the Khmer Rouge killing fields of the late 1970s; the Thai refugee camps, the Michigan winters, and teenage years in southern California of the 1980s, Georgetown undergraduate and Michigan Law as well as post-conflict Cambodia of the 1990s; a full circle by coming back home to a fragile land in the early 2000s—fraught with the ghosts of the past, abuses of the present and hope for the future.

I am a sister, an aunt and at one time a daughter; not yet a wife and a mother; no longer a prisoner and a refugee. In sum, I am a free human being grateful to be alive and disturbingly, restlessly challenged in this at once despicable, ethereal, ephemeral world of devastating cruelty and sublime beauty.

- You are the founder and board president of the Cambodian Center for Justice & Reconciliation, and also the founding director of CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education. What motivated you to create and or join these two organization ?

The Center for Justice & Reconciliation and CIVICUS came into being out of necessity—to continue the work of the Center for Social Development after I was removed as CSD’s director via a politically-motivated injunctive order and CSD’s subsequent non-functioning. CSD had been effective in engaging Cambodians from all walks of life and from all over the country in dialogue on topics of human rights, democracy, peace, justice, reconciliation and healing in light of Cambodian Constitution, international treaties and declarations, and most recently the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

The Center for Justice & Reconciliation continues this justice and reconciliation work in a more fine-tuned, focused manner, managed by an incredibly able team of experienced practitioners of former CSD staff and a Cambodian-American lawyer from California, who happens to be my youngest brother, Daravuth.

CIVICUS, yet in early stages of operation, focuses on transforming Cambodian survivors into engaged, informed citizens with a particular focus on what it means to carry out civic duties and responsibilities in the public realm in a still fragile democracy.

-As I recall a couple years back in srok Khmer, you were on the back of a moped and someone snatch your purse. You fell off the injuring yourself. The thief took off with your belongings, ID, travel documents, and passport. Have you recovered from that incident? And do you think it was random or you think that was intentional?

Yes, I remember the robbery vividly, as I still bear the scars on my right shoulder blade even though the violence occurred five years ago. (I remember a friend had suggested that I should remove the palm-size scar with cosmetic surgery, an advice I did not heed. I’d like to view it as my man-made beauty mark, and I’d like to think beauty can be transformed from horror.)

It was a random crime, nothing more invidious than that. It was, however, certainly very audacious as the crime took place in broad daylight, in mid-afternoon in front of the Royal Palace and the Ministry of Justice before onlookers of police and tourists. I was very fortunate in not hitting my head when I fell off the moto-dup (moped taxi) and that there was no immediate on-coming traffic. Immediately, I jumped back on the moto-dup to finish my errands before heading to a medical clinic for cleaning up as it is important to quash immediately any possibility of phobia arising.

- Our deep condolence to both your parents. At that time you were at age where you could remember. Now, do you know who was in charge and if you would have caught him or her or them, what would be justice to you?

Thank you for your condolences and kind sentiments.

I hold the senior Khmer Rouge leaders (currently detained by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) personally, individually responsible for the deaths of my parents. It is true they did not physically kill my father or my mother with their own hands. However, they gave the orders and created the conditions for death to be the norm and killing to be as easy as breathing.

I do not know for certain the fate of the individuals who were physically responsible for the actual murder of my parents. My father “disappeared” after the “Khmer Rouge” rounded him and other men into the convoy trucks in 1975. I have heard that the prison chief who gave the order to have the prisoners, including my mother, killed had passed away a while back.

photo taken : unknown / date : unknown

The prosecution of these individuals offers a strand of legal justice to me. Other forms of justice have taken place in my soul, one being the process of learning to forgive, an act independent of a prosecution.

- You fled to the border of Cambodia and Thailand. There are haunting stories about beatings, rape, and even murder there, did you witness any of these offense while you was there?

I remember hearing stories of such atrocities and abuses in the refugee camps, but as a child of nine years old, I did not witness any of these crimes myself that I recall. However, my older relatives did encounter these violations and abuses as they were more attuned and more mobile to expose them to these matters.

-What was the first book about and when was it published?

My first book, Daughter of the Killing Fields: Asrei’s Story, is a compilation of experiences of my nuclear and extended family members during the Khmer Rouge years, overlay with my personal reflections and remembrances. The genre is memoir, but it is more correctly a family biography. This memoir or family history was first published in London in September 2005. To this day, the memoir is not sold in Canada and the United States, a restriction I imposed on the London publishing house; I wanted to wait for a New York publishing house for the North American markets, a luxury of time and choice I did not have as a first time author. In the intervening years since, the memoir was effectively forgotten by me in terms of North American rights, translation rights etc; it is only now that I am afforded the energy and time to think again about getting this story out to the larger American public.

w w w . t h e a r y s e n g . c o m

-Is the book you are currently writing a follow up to your first book or is it a whole different story?

My second writing is altogether a different book – a reflection piece on the topics of peace, justice, reconciliation, how they interrelate with each other in the healing process. My conversations with Cambodians all over the country of the last four years will help to flesh out these concepts.

- $50 million to help Cambodia developments or $50 million for the KR war trial?

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) is spending an average of US$40-50 million per year to try the senior Khmer Rouge leaders, which is an astronomical amount not comprehensible to many of us. How much more the incomprehension to a Cambodian teacher earning US$50 a month?! Or a farmer barely eking out a living?! Or the 35% of 14 million Cambodians living on less than 50 U.S. cents a day, where the poverty line is US$2 a day and where gasoline and electricity cost more in Cambodia than the United States?! (US$4.20 per gallon to be exact!)

This said, I believe the costs of the KRT are not unreasonable even if not easily comprehensible. Comparatively speaking, the KRT is a major bargain in light of other mixed and international tribunals, not that this knowledge is any comfort to any of us.

By way of attempting a response, let me say this: The either/or of ‘development’ or this Khmer Rouge Tribunal is a false choice, as I’d like to believe that this KRT furthers ‘development’. However we slice the Cambodian society right now, there is the Khmer Rouge.

For example, we cannot understand and begin to address the high rate of domestic violence if we do not understand or begin to address the larger violation, i.e., the mass crimes of the Khmer Rouge; we cannot understand or begin to address the current culture of impunity, if we do not address the impunity of the mass KR crimes.

We cannot develop if we do not have justice; we do not have justice, if we do not end impunity (or at least chip away at it); we cannot end impunity, if we allow mass crimes to go unpunished.

I understand this is simplistic and the issues are complex, but hopefully, you can the idea. We need to collectively repudiate the mass crimes in order to begin to restore moral and social order, a necessary first step of development.

-As the “ daughter of the killing fields” and losing both your parents to the Genocide, what are your thoughts on the Khmer Rouge Trial ?

My opening remarks I just gave at the Rutgers School of Law symposium on the Extraordinary Chambers (the formal name for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) best capture my thoughts, attached:

- What make you chose to go to law school, I mean why law, labor and human rights? Why not open a business and just settle down?

At an earlier age, there were two things I wanted in life: to obtain a law degree and to live again in Cambodia. I went to law school to learn how to express myself more effectively, to untangle my emotional knots and to make sense of my turbulent inner life in this transient world.

I entered the human rights field as a natural progression of and response to who I am as a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide, a Christian bestowed with great opportunities and blessings, and a human being who desires more than just success but significance.

-You made history when you testified as the first ECCC-recognized civil party against the pre-trial detention hearing of the most senior, surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Brother No. 2 Nuon Chea on 7 Feb. 2008. How was that moment like for you?

The moment was surreal and full of dissonance—to have this man, often caricatured as evil incarnate, a larger-than-life monster of international renown; this man who played God in determining who could live, who would die and chose the method of their deaths, this man now reduced by age to an old, pathetic, frail, ailing frame now standing before justice, before the Cambodian public, before the international public—before me, not as a helpless child, but an empowered woman with moral authority over him—going down in the annals of history as a mass murderer, a destroyer of culture and his own people, vilified and publicly humiliated—now being answerable to me, to me(!), as I took the proceeding personally and his crimes personally—it was breath-taking and humbling, and vindication!

- What are your thought on Hun Sen and his CPP who is currently in control of Cambodia?

I believe Mr. Hun Sen has overstayed his stay in power by a couple of decades and his CPP lacking vision and the wherewithal to be leaders in the 21st century Cambodia.

I am sympathetic with Mr. Hun Sen and the CPP leadership to the extent that they started out as well-meaning individuals who were unfortunately transformed for the worst by the speed and complexity of change since the end of the Cold War where politics are no longer neatly divided by the simple categorization of East vs. West, Communism vs. Capitalism, Authoritarian vs. Freedom. As you may notice, the Communists at the first opportunity have become the worst and most greedy Capitalists more than the capitalists themselves could ever be, shedding any superficial ideology of social equality they may have held.

I believe Mr. Hun Sen is a very shrewd strategist for his own survival; in this regard, one may consider him a very good politician. However, I’d like to think the criteria for being a “good” politician, in this case the prime minister, especially in the 21st century, to go beyond personal survival to include the expansion of the public good for the welfare of the citizens. Consequently, I do not see Mr. Hun Sen as a good politician nor an effective statesman of magnanimity and capability to have as his focus the welfare of Cambodians or the development of Cambodia, but rather a third rate reactionary who is out of his depth in his ability to respond to the swirling geopolitics of this modern time. For example, he and the CPP have been unable to untangle themselves from the invidious influence of Vietnam, their patron; they have been unwittingly roped into personal, petty politics with Thailand with tremendous, serious geopolitical consequences for Cambodia. I view Mr. Hun Sen and the CPP lacking ideology, creativity, vision and wherewithal to handle the fast-paced confluences of globalization and information communication technology in this knowledge-based, modern world. In one respect, they remind me of the Khmer Rouge in their inability to understand and respond to the geopolitics of their time except by reactionary inclination toward repression and violence.

- Here in America the President has a 4 year term and can be up for election and can ONLY be elected twice. So the maximum is 8 years, 2 terms. Hun Sen have been in power for 3 decade! Do you think Cambodia should adapt American policy in terms of election or is it fine the way it is?

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Democracy necessitates choice and fresh, competing ideas. Three decades of stale, regressive leadership cannot be desirable. Moreover, what does the country have to show for the billions and billions of foreign assistance which have been pouring into Cambodia over the last 2 decades except for a few roads and a few shiny buildings? In addition to the financial costs, take a look at the social costs to Cambodians and Cambodia—a Grand Canyon-size chasm of inequity, a culture of prostitution and sex-trafficking, a further embedded mentality of dependency and cynicism, entrenched corruption and impunity, mass evictions of the poor and landless, a land greatly stripped of its environmental beauty and safeguards with little forest cover… Need I say more?

It is never a good idea to transplant American democracy to any place, particularly Cambodia. However, there exist universal principles which resonate with all human beings which are imports of democracy: freedom of expression, freedom of belief, freedom from want, freedom from fear. Election is only one manifestation of a democracy.

-What is your thought on the Preah Vihear temple tension?

We have the law on our side; we should have immediately taken the matter to regional and international bodies, such as ASEAN and the United Nations rather than engage in this military and diplomatic stand-off which we are substantially weaker than Thailand on both fronts. We should have immediately lobbied the international community, particularly the signatories of the Paris Agreements which brought about UNTAC who have an obligation to act and come to Cambodia’s territorial defense.

- What can we do to help to stop human trafficking and child prostitution not just in Cambodia but around the world?

Everyone of us has a responsibility toward each other and toward the upholding of human dignity. Human trafficking and prostitution undermine human dignity. In this light, a fundamental first step is awareness of the problems and a personal affirmation and restoration of these basic values of human dignity. More practically, we can provide support to organizations known to effectively work in these areas, like World Vision which has done so much to combat human trafficking around the world, in particular in Cambodia.

- What do you think is the 3 biggest issues facing Cambodia right now? And what do you want change in the 10 years?

1. A mentality of inferiority, of dependency, of victim hood, of hand-outs – which says we cannot, should not expect, we do not deserve anything better than the “lesser than evil” choices in life. The mentality to be gratified and satisfied with crumbs for crumbs are better than nothing, better than starvation under the Khmer Rouge.

2. Materialism, false modesty; feigned personality (hypocrisy), the trading of high culture for low culture, exchanging authenticity for the counterfeit. For example, we give lip service to the grandeur of Khmer ballet but treat the dancers like beggars rather than treasured professionals; we pay lip service to the grandeur of the Angkor Wat but do nothing to protect is longevity and sacredness. In contrast, we love everything foreign that is a counterfeit of Khmer high culture.

3. Impunity; corruption of the mind, of the soul in addition to pervasive predatory corruption in everyday life, at school, in court, in the ministries etc.

- I was there with you for the one year anniversary morning of the assassination of the late union leader CHEA VICHEA. Now there is an awarding winning documentary out call “Who killed Chea Vichea ?” who do you think is behind the killing and why?

All evidence point to the powers that be.

- Now I have receive death threats before and I am sure I will get plenty more for my music and voicing my opinion. I stand behind the freedom of expression statement. I will not stop even though I know that the threat is real. My question to you is have you receive any? and how do you feel about it?

The most overt threat and intimidation occurred when we hosted Mia Farrow and the Dream for Darfur team here in Cambodia. Besides that, I don’t recall other serious ones which have stayed in my mind. There is of course the phone tapping, particularly when I am being interviewed by Radio Free Asia or Voice of America.
Any act of intimidation, any threat, any form of violence is fundamentally COWARDICE. And I refuse to give credence or energy to cowards, little boys in men’s clothing pretending to exercise power. I believe in the strength and justice of moral power over physical, brute power. As Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated, the long arc of history bends toward justice and I want to take part in the bending; fear paralyzes and inhibits. So it is best to focus on the bending “toward justice” and not focus on the cowardice of others.

- Beside the book, what is your current project?

I am a bit overwhelmed with projects relating to my personal and professional role at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal; fundraising for Center for Justice & Reconciliation as well as CIVICUS; my involvement in regional bodies such as the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability foundation based in Manila, the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN based in Jakarta; personal writings for publications as well as the books and their related research, translation rights, publicity etc. And of course, I have neglected my personal life which is a consuming and endless “project” : ) which requires more tending to…

- Happy Khmer New Year ! what are your plans for this new year ?

Suorsdei chnam thmei to you ! No specific plans besides joining some of the offerings in Phnom Penh with family and friends…

- the last time I had lunch with you we ordered the Phnom Penh noodles. I ordered Phnom Penh noodle dry with soup on the side, now what did you order?

Wow, that’s one great memory! I probably ordered the same thing as you for I really like my noodles separated from the soup (minus the MSG !). I’m a bit older than you, so my memory is failing and not as sharp as yours…

- What do you do on your spare time?

I love to read and I have been reading more recently… over a glass of good French wine. I like the arts, hence going to the theatre and dance performances… I love Khmer culture but we do need to open up the artistic offerings to include more cosmopolitan performances, which are lacking and which I miss when living here in Cambodia.

- what type of music do you listen to ?

I love traditional Cambodian music as well as music of the 1960s. I cannot wait to see the film being produced and directed by a good friend, John Pirozzi, on Cambodian music of this era which should be out soon, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten. I love jazz and anything that I can understand…I like your music ( praCh ) a lot because I can understand it; however, besides your music, many times my ears are sensitive to cacophonous and gratuitous coarse rap lyrics devoid of a social message. Your question reminds me that I need to invest in a better stereo system …

- 7 words to best describe yourself.

Tempestuous. Impatient. Wannabe artist. Passionate. Fair. Visionary.

- 7 things you would put in your time capsule?

Photos of my mother, my father, my aunt Peat and her husband Long, my grandmother Yi Hao, and 2 group photos of my nieces and nephews. With the following caption to accompany these photos: In loving memory; we will not let you die in vain; for the future generation, PEACE.

- Any last words ?

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- ''The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.''

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy
Capetown, June 6th 1966

On 7 June 2007, German rock legend Herbert Groenenmeyer, U2's Bono, Bob Geldof and civil society umbrella organization Global Call to Action against Poverty organized the P-8 Rock Concert in Rostock, Germany to highlight the plight of the world's poor, to coincide with the G-8 Summit where the leaders of the world richest countries were meeting in nearby, seaside Heiligendamm. Theary represented Cambodia, one of the "Poor 8" countries invited, along with Bangladesh, represented by Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus. Following is Theary's speech to an electric crowd of 80,000 and several million more TV viewers.

Hallo Rostock!

My name is Theary Seng and I run the Center for Social Development in Cambodia. The Center for Social Development is a Cambodian human rights NGO which monitors 7 courts (including the Khmer Rouge Tribunal), advocates for good governance and accountability (many times with Transparency International) and conducts grassroots dialogue with villagers all over Cambodia on Justice & Reconciliation. One of our main donors is Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst.

I stand united with you today to resoundingly proclaim: Poverty is not fate. Poverty is not destiny. Poverty is man-made; it results from the greed and arrogance of power, poor governance and ill-conceived policies. Today, we join voices against the scourge of poverty and to urge the G-8 leaders to be more mindful of Cambodians, and the less fortunate of this world.

Yes, Cambodia is back -but not everyone. In Cambodia, 35 percent live on less than 50 US cents a day.

Lack of education causes poverty

Enrollment is up, but we have one in two Cambodian child not completing primary school. The girls are most vulnerable to dropping out first because of the lack of toilets -10 Million out of 14 Million Cambodians do not have access to toilets - or the girls are needed at home to care for sick family or they are trafficked and sold into prostitution or they have to work to supplement the family income. In Cambodia, education is supposed to be free, but students must often supplement teachers' meager salary of $30 a month.

War causes poverty

Poverty causes war. We, in Cambodia, had to start literally from the Year Zero, when almost 2 million Cambodians died as a result of the Khmer Rouge, including my parents - my dad immediately when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, and my mom later when we were in prison and I was 7 years old.

Corruption causes poverty

In Cambodia, the Anti-Corruption Law has been in draft form since 1995; 12 years later, still no political will, still no law. Now we struck oil, and fear the Resource Curse. If big businesses control more and more of the world's resources, they must bear social responsibility. Let them start with transparency of information of what they pay to government, and let us join the Publish What You Pay movement to pressure them to do so.

Environmental destruction causes poverty

At least 30% of Cambodia's dense, tropical forests have been illegally depleted by the rich and powerful. Last Sunday, Global Witness - which the government has banned from the country for its past reports - released via the internet another scathing report. On my way to join you here, the Cambodian government again threatens confiscation.

Landlessness causes poverty

The Cambodian poor face illegal evictions, or they are forced to sell their land cheaply to pay for health care and life's unexpected crises.

The G-8 leaders believe they can judge our future. In Cambodia, we are currently trying to judge our past for our future. But at least, the G-8 are 8 individuals who control and possess power; in Cambodia, there's only one.

So, today, let us be reminded: Poverty is not destiny. Poverty many times is man-made. Poverty is the worst form of violence. Hence, let us do everything in our power to fight against this worst form of violence. Amidst the poverty, there's also much beauty in Cambodia; come visit us. We still need your help.

And today onward, ich bin eine Rostockerin! Danke schön

Theary C. Seng

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



Monday, March 1, 2010



I personally applaud anyone who has the drive to run for congress. I couldn't imagine what it is like to carry such a burden of representing a community. A person must possess great leadership and communication skills, and most importantly, empathy, in other words, the ability to connect with others IE. human relations. Qualities that Sam S Meas possesses.

So what made me get into politics? If you know anything about me, my passion is Cambodia, spreading and education people about the tragic history, the amazing culture and ways to help. Sam S Meas, will pave the way for not only Cambodian Americans but for everyone with a dream. I support him, for his values and his intentions for change, and also finally someone who can represent and hear the voices of fellow Cambodians and Cambodian Americans. Join my cause, and support Sam S Meas for congress. Please spread the word!
Find him on Facebook - Sam S Meas


My name is Sam Meas. I am a resident of Haverhill, Massachusetts. For some time now I have observed national
politics from the sidelines. But now I must become involved because I believe our beloved country will never get
back to traditional American values unless I do.

President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have been using American tax dollars to subsidize corporate greed and reward incompetence. But they have not allocated a single penny to bail out the working and fast-disappearing middle class. They are printing money, borrowing from the Chinese, and spending money that we do not have. They are trying to spend our way out of this recession and into prosperity. But the Japanese tried to do this in the 1990s . . . and failed miserably.
We can only get out of this economic crisis by reverting to fiscal sanity. We must not spend money we do not have. We need to stop the flow of money to banks that do not lend. We must target the stimulus package directly to the working class by giving money to the people instead of to financial institutions. And we must keep taxes low for hardworking entrepreneurs.

Folks, I am profoundly grateful that my family and I have had the opportunity to become members of the American middle class through hard work, tenacity, and frugality. And I believe that it is my civic duty as an American citizen to serve in public office in any capacity I can. I am running as a Republican candidate for the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts so that I can give you, the voter, a choice where there has been none for a long time.

In China, Vietnam, or Cuba there is only one sanctioned party, and the party bosses create a list of candidates for the people to vote for. In these countries, they call this a free and fair election.

But without choice there is no freedom.

I now have the extraordinary honor of inviting you, your families, and neighbors to learn more about my candidacy and the issues that I care about so deeply: the economy, education, immigration, border security, and veterans’ affairs. If you will send me to Washington to be your servant representative in Congress, I pledge to honor my promises and tenaciously work with other members of Congress to represent you and your voice.

Let’s come together to protect and preserve American values, jobs, and the working families.

And help me spread the message of freedom through choice throughout our district by promoting my candidacy as an alternative to the established candidate.

May God bless you and may God bless America!


Sam Meas


From killing fields to US candidate

Photo by: Photo Supplied
US Congressional candidate Sam Meas, a survivor of the killing fields who is the first Cambodian-American to run for state or federal office.

Sam Meas, the first Cambodian-American to seek congressional office, talks about growing up in war-torn Cambodia, his move to the US and his outlook on the Kingdom’s political situation.

Sam Meas, a 36-year-old investment analyst from Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a Republican candidate for the United States congress in Massachusetts’ 5th District. He is the first Cambodian-American to run for Congress, or any other state or federal office in US history. Sam Meas and a cousin crossed the border from Cambodia into Thailand’s Khao-I-Dang refugee camp in 1983. He came to the US to live with a foster family in 1986, and went on to graduate from Virginia Tech University in 1996. Sam Meas recently took time out from working and campaigning to conduct an email interview with the Post.

What were the most striking things about the United States for you when you arrived in 1986?
Our flight arrived in New York City at night from Europe. The view of the city from the plane was the most incredible sight I have ever laid my eyes on. Bright lights were lighting up the city grids from the ground. I thought it was heaven on earth.

The second striking feature was the highway system. A group of us took the taxi from the airport to the hotel. We were driven through underpasses, overpasses and underground tunnels. I was just mesmerised by the wonder of it all. The tall buildings and modernity of everything in America were just incredible. I had never seen any of these things before in my life.

Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised by the kind and welcoming people in America. True to their reputation, Americans are kind, compassionate and caring people.

What are your memories of life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge?
I was very young when the Khmer Rouge took Kandal province; It has since been relayed to me that I was just 2 years old at the time. My father was arrested and never to be seen again, meaning that he, like so many other thousands of teachers and intellectuals, was executed....

My older brothers and sisters were drafted to be part of the Khmer Rouge’s new Army of Labour and sent to work far away. I never saw much of them after they left.... While my mother was putting in 12-hour days for Angka in the field, my brother and I spent our time between our mud hut and the day care centre at the communal kitchen. One of our jobs, besides fending for ourselves, was collecting cow manure....

I did witness individual murders and mass killing. My family was spared, I was told, solely because the local Khmer Rouge village chief attested that our family was part of the “liberated people” or “old people”.

What are your thoughts on the current state of politics in Cambodia?
Cambodia, like many other countries that are recovering from years of protracted civil war, is lacking much and needs rebuilding on so many fronts – the economy, education, healthcare, social justice, respect for the rule of law, respect for private property, human rights, independence of the judicial system and transparency and accountability at all levels of government – all at the same time.

Has some progress been made? The answer is yes. Can more be done and at a faster pace? Absolutely. Would the economy of Cambodia greatly benefit from an independent judicial system and greater respect for private property? I believe so.

On September 10, the US congress heard testimony from Cambodian witnesses who detailed a litany of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by the Cambodian government, with Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua claiming that Cambodian democracy is experiencing “an alarming free fall”. Do you find these testimonies credible?

This is all the more reason why there is an urgent need for an independent and transparent judicial system in Cambodia – so that any allegations, as well as lawsuits and countersuits, can be brought forward in the Cambodian courts. Only in an independent Cambodian court can the truth be found by a Khmer judge and the Khmer people. As a US congressman, I will fight to right these injustices.

Many Cambodians who grew up in America find themselves back in Cambodia after being deported for committing felonies as noncitizens. What is your position on this issue?
While I am strongly sympathetic to their plight, everyone must obey the law. So, I first strongly advise all legal immigrants to apply for US citizenship as soon as they are eligible.... Many of these deportees who grew up in the US came with their parents when they were very young and had ample time to apply for US citizenship. In a free society, one must be held responsible for one’s actions. They committed the felonies and aggravated felonies or drug trafficking, and are therefore responsible for their actions.

However, as an elected official, I would also like to examine the different agreements signed between the US and Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.... It seems that there is variation in the agreements between the US and these countries.…Why is it that noncitizens from these countries are treated differently? The same crime must have the same punishment regardless of the perpetrator’s race or country of origin.

Have you been following the progress of the Khmer Rouge tribunal? If so, what are your thoughts on it and the role it is attempting to play in national reconciliation?
I have been following the Khmer Rouge tribunal. I think what needs to happen in order for the healing to begin is to model the tribunal on the truth commissions in South Africa. Those who committed the heinous crimes need to openly confess on record to the people and ask forgiveness from the victims and their families. No retribution or punishment.

What role does Buddhism play in your outlook on politics?
I am a Buddhist and believe in the teachings of our Lord Buddha. One needs to have compassion for human suffering. But each human being is held accountable and responsible for our actions. Therefore, there is a certain limited role of government in our daily lives. Each of us is responsible in ensuring that our government works for us.

Government should create a limited safety net for its citizens, but government should not be there to provide a handout and to take care of every need of its citizens. Citizens create and get the type of government they choose. Dictatorship and totalitarianism did not happen overnight. Be wary of a government that promises and gives too much, for that beneficence ultimately comes from what it takes from the people.


Sunday, February 28, 2010 - Photo by Michael Siu of Wardrobe by Elsa Brodmann. Make up by Ashley Merritt of the Make up Lab. Hair by Jennifer of Reagan's Hair Salon.

Monday, February 8, 2010


For many centuries a cultural and historic treasure lay hidden amid the dense jungles of Cambodia: Angkor Wat. This huge temple site was once completely surrounded by water-filled ditches that protected the sanctuary from the noise of the once busy city of Angkor.

To date one thousand seven hundred artistic reliefs have been counted in Angkor Wat. Most of them contain religious illustrations derived from Indian mythology. Interestingly, the historic figure of the god-like king, Suryavarman The Second appears to combine with the Hindu god, Vishnu.

Khmer culture was strongly influenced by numerous Indian tribes and peoples who had immigrated to Cambodia in the first millennium. Liberation from the long domination of the Chinese-influenced Funan Empire made the Khmer stronger and created their first period of prosperity.

The remarkable monuments of Angkor Wat along with the amazing cultural heritage of Cambodia were discovered in 1850 by a Frenchman, Bouillevaux. Based on his sensational discovery, archaeologists have been able to shed further light on this remarkable location. This has led to even greater knowledge of both the legendary mythological images and inhabitants of the Khmer epoch.

Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Photo by Michael Siu of Wardrobe by Elsa Brodmann. Make up by Ashley Merritt of the Make up Lab. Hair by Jennifer of Reagan's Hair Salon.

Photograph - ©2010 Scott Harrison - 1 of the children of a Cambodian school of 2,000 kids who got their water from a giant pond. Our friends at @achildsright found the funding to hook the kids up with a filtration system. Find out what you can do:

Lost Boys

All photographs ©2009 Stuart Isett -

One of the untold stories of the current immigration hysteria sweeping America is the forced deportation of young Cambodians, mainly men, who came to the United States as infants and refugees after escaping the Khmer Rouge genocide, civil war and illegal US invasion and bombings of Cambodia. Their families, poor, uneducated farmers for the most part, were dumped in some of America's worst gang infested neighborhoods. Even though they had 'permanent resident' status, felony convictions, some more than 10 years old, means under new immigration rules they are being sent back to a country they do not know, where they have no family and little hope of escaping poverty. Even after serving time and paying back their debt to society, nearly 2000 Cambodians, some as old as 70 years, are being punished a second time and thrown into ICE jails with no right to appeal.

Over 200 have already arrived in Cambodia, leaving behind families, wives and children in the US. The deportees have no right to appeal, no right to see a judge to show that they have atoned for their past crimes and are living as productive members of American society. Considering America's role in the turmoil that swept through Cambodia in the 1970s, we are breaking the faith with these refugees.

Music by Prach Ly, available at

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Being accepted as a political refugee, as victims from US Aerial Bombings and the Khmer Rouge, shouldn't they be accepted for the good and bad? The livelihood is a product of the US culture. The US should accept some responsibility for poor to nil resettlement programs, and of course, not justifying the actions of the criminals, but if already served time for the crime, to further punish by deportation, is HIGHLY INHUMANE. Cambodian deportees, most with minor crimes, have never been to Cambodia, grew up in the US and some with minimal knowledge of the language. The worst way to punish a permanent resident in the justice system, thank you BUSH, for being as HUMANE and UN-RACIST as you were.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Facebook deleted my fan site again, screw facebook and the hating people that reporting. Ima still be on top of the world, whats deleting my face book page? Lame, get your shit together and stop worrying 'bout what Im doing.
Miss MamboMundo January 2010

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