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Cambodian tour guides cry foul over new tour guide audio Apps

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Cambodian tour guides cry foul over new tour guide audio Apps | The Thaiger

Digital technology is disrupting many older technologies – travel bookings, buying real estate, booking flights, media, dating – and now tour guides are getting the digital make-over with new Apps taking their jobs. Tour guides at Cambodia’s historical sites are voicing concern over a new audio tour App they say is threatening their careers.

Developed by local company Angkor Audio, the App provides spoken tours in 14 languages.

Hem Sophoan, who has worked as a guide since becoming licensed in 2008, told The Phnom Penh Post that the App is hurting the industry and affecting the livelihood of trained guides.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism should encourage tour guide skills because it always provides training courses, so what do those guides do now?,” he asked.

Sophoan says Cambodia has approximately 10,000 working tour guides and if the App finds a large enough audience, it will directly affect their incomes.

The audio tour program is set to launch next year and will cost users $2.99 for the first month of use. Currently, the company is testing it with 30,000 users.

A Spanish-language tour guide in Siem Reap, Kes Theng, said he strongly opposed the new App.

“As a tour guide, I strongly oppose any company that plans to run a tour guide App for Cambodia’s historic sites,” he said, adding that it would lead to poverty.

“Do you want to see the thousands of people working as tour guides become unemployed?” he asked.

The Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, could not be reached for comment as of press time, while the ministry’s spokesman did not answer a phone call.

The Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Hor Vandy said the App would strengthen the Kingdom’s tourism sector, despite pushing some guides out of business.

“I believe the ministry will consider how best to coordinate with the tour guides,” he said.

Vandy said audio tours are already being used at historical sites in Phnom Penh, and a few in Siem Reap.

Data from the ministry showed that in the first five months of this year, Cambodia received 2.6 million foreign tourists – up 13.5 per cent compared to last year.

The Kingdom is expected to receive 6.2 million tourists this year and seven million a year by 2020.

Cambodian tour guides cry foul over new tour guide audio Apps | News by The Thaiger

STORY: Phnom Penh Post

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Crime

Cambodian dog slaughterhouse shut down, owner says he is “ashamed”

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Cambodian dog slaughterhouse shut down, owner says he is “ashamed” | The Thaiger

After increasing calls to end the dog meat trade, a Cambodian slaughterhouse is shutting down, with its owner saying he is “ashamed.” Ouk Mol, the owner, says the dog slaughterhouse has killed more than a million dogs since opening in 1995.

According to Four Paws animal rights group, Cambodia slaughters between 2 to 3 million dogs per year, while offering the cheap meal of protein at more than 100 dog meat restaurants in Phnom Penh, its capital.

Mol’s slaughterhouse is responsible for all the supply to Phnom Penh, but he says he will no longer be killing dogs, citing increasing pressure from animal rights groups and civilians alike. The 50 year old former soldier says he feels ashamed.

“But I want to quit the business because I am getting old and a lot of people have criticised me about the dog meat trade.”

The operator was offered financial support from Four Paws to open a grocery store if they shut down their slaughterhouse with Ouk Mol’s wife, Sao Phally, saying she is glad they have found a way out of the business.

“We were always worried about sin because of our killing. People looked at us in a bad way.”

The slaughterhouse, which uses vats to drown the dogs, and blowtorches to remove their fur, slaughtered up to 200 dogs per day. Now, as of yesterday, the company has shut down, with the remainder of dogs being sent to animal charities for rehabilitation and placed for international adoption.

Phnom Penh is the 2nd city in Cambodia to follow increasing calls to close the dog meat trade, as Siem Reap banned the trade last year in a victory for animal rights groups. Until 2020, Siem Reap, Cambodia’s largest tourist city, was known by rights groups as the “lynchpin” of the trade.

Despite Cambodia’s efforts to begin closing down its dog meat trade, it is not the only Asian country that features dog meat as a cuisine. Consuming dog meat in Vietnam is more popular than in Cambodia, which shows the industry has a long way to go with regards to respecting animal rights.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Myanmar

38 people die “bloodiest day” since Myanmar coup – United Nations

Caitlin Ashworth

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38 people die “bloodiest day” since Myanmar coup – United Nations | The Thaiger
Anti-coup protest in Myanmar on February 14 / Photo by Htin Linn Aye via Wikimedia Commons

38 people died during Myanmar’s anti-coup protests yesterday in what the United Nations is calling the “bloodiest day” in the country since the February 1 military takeover. UN special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said the death toll is “shocking” and that the situation in the Southeast Asian country could lead to a “real war.”

Since last month’s coup, more than 50 people have died while many others have been wounded in protests against military rule. Witnesses say police and soldiers have opened fire with little warning. In a virtual briefing, the UN envoy said experts believe the Burmese police are using 9mm sub-machine guns to fire shots at civilians.

“I saw today very disturbing video clips. One was police beating a volunteer medical crew. They were not armed… Another video clip showed a protester was taken away from police and they shot him from very near, maybe one metre. He didn’t resist his arrest and it seems he died on the street.”

Burmese troops seized power of the civilian government last month, citing what they say was a fraudulent election, although the election commission said the vote was fair. A number of civilian politicians were arrested including democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had won the November election for state counsellor in a landslide.

Christine says more than 1,200 people are now under detention and many do not know where their loved ones are.

SOURCE: UN News | Aljazeera

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Myanmar

UN condemns violence in Myanmar as at least 18 killed in clashes with authorities

Maya Taylor

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UN condemns violence in Myanmar as at least 18 killed in clashes with authorities | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) has called for an immediate end to the use of force in Myanmar, after at least 18 people were killed in violent clashes yesterday. Those opposed to the February 1 military coup have been taking to the streets, with police and military forces opening fire in what was the deadliest day so far.

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres says he condemned the use of force against protesters, which resulted in at least 30 people being injured and 18 killed.

“He is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries. The use of lethal force against peaceful protestors and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable.”

The Burmese army claims that the parliamentary elections, in which State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was elected, were fraudulent. She was arrested on February 1, along with several members of her administration. According to media reports, she is due to appear in court today.

The UN Ambassador to Myanmar also condemned the military coup in a General Assembly address in New York and called on the international community to act. He has since been fired.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani has also condemned the violence, saying the Burmese people have the right to peacefully protest in the name of democracy.

“The people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy. These fundamental rights must be respected by the military and police, not met with violent and bloody repression.”

After clashes between protesters and the military and police, deaths have been reported in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myiek, Bago and Pokokku, with Shamdasani claiming tear gas and stun grenades were used against protesters. She has slammed the use of force and condemned the arrest and detention of activists.

“Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms. Since the beginning of the coup d’état, the police and security forces have targeted an ever-increasing number of opposition voices and demonstrators by arresting political officials, activists, civil society members, journalists, and medical professionals.

“Today alone, police have detained at least 85 medical professionals and students, as well as 7 journalists, who were present at the demonstrations. Over 1,000 individuals have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in the last month – some of whom remain unaccounted for – mostly without any form of due process, simply for exercising their human rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.”

The military coup of February 1 came as Myanmar was edging towards democracy after years of army rule. It has been condemned by countries around the world and brought hundreds of thousands of Burmese onto the streets to demand an end to military rule and the restoration of democracy.

SOURCE: UN News

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