Cambodia: Cold JusticeFebruary 14, 2007
Gazing out at sunrise over the Tonle Sap the other morning, I was revelling in a most unusual sensation in Cambodia, feeling somewhat chilly. I actually forwent my glass of iced coffee in favour of a hot coffee. Of course this cold spell only lasted a couple of days, but it was interesting to see the various reactions of the local Khmers; motodops driving around in puffa jackets and gloves, school children walking to schools with hats and scarves and Lady Playboy wearing jumpers and socks to bed.
Maybe it was this sudden cold snap that prompted Stuart Emmrich’s asinine piece of parachute-journalism on how Phnom Penh is the new Prague. Having lived in both cities I can assure him that he is so far off the mark he might as well have said Phnom Penh is the new Baghdad.
So while I was sipping my piping hot coffee, I spent a good 25 seconds reading the Cambodia (rarely) Daily (almost) from cover to cover.
I was pleased to see that The Iron Man had reversed the ludicrous decision made earlier this month by Mayor Random who banned advertising on tuk-tuks. Encouraging the Private Sector has never been one of Cambodia’s strengths, but trying to actually quash it, even at the low end $5 a month advertising for advertising on tuk-tuks, seemed completely bizarre and random even for here.
Meanwhile, in other news, I see that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) also known as the Khmer Rouge Trials, is still being plagued by indecision, conflict and uncertainty over its lunch menu.
After last years failure to reach a compromise between Western and Khmer dishes, and a suitable vendor of both preferences, thousands of dollars are now being spent on advertising for interested service providers to submit proposals for the provision of a catering service to the ECCC.
Presumably, this is the result of last year?s action to resolve the issue, which was to set us a Cuisine Working Group which had several meetings and held some participatory, fully facilitated, workshops to resolve this cross-cultural culinary conflict. (my Emailed suggestion to feed them all Khmer Rouge style rice gruel went unanswered).
As usual it seems that the NGOs, the International Organisations, the Donors and the airy-fairy smugger-than-thou-brigade are more interested in appearances and the process than actual results.
If it takes this long and is this complex (ludicrous) to sort out a lunchtime sandwich and a bowl of rice, I weep for the outcome, efficiency and effectiveness of the actual Khmer Rouge Trials. This is looking more and more like a US$60million white elephant day by day.
Honestly, it is enough to make a gecko laugh and cry at the same time.
The views in this column are entirely those of Lord Playboy (of Phnom Penh, B&B and that muddy patch of ground next to the school;) they are in no way are representative of Khmer440, its editors or staff, of any Ministry of the Royal Government of Cambodia who employs Lord Playboy, of unshaven diplomats drunk driving around Wat Phnom, of anyone who owns a Lexus, or the staff of experimental dance NGOs. Damn, things will be different when I am running the Country