Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Silly Season

The last couple of months have produced some particularly stupid, self-contradictory, silly and even vile comments in and about Cambodia from politicians, journalists and the like. The upcoming election has had a lot to do with it, but it hasn’t been restricted to politicians alone. Amongst the many ill-considered remarks of the last couple of months, the following are but a choice few.

“Most Cambodian men are dignified—we never have sex with minors. Only foreigners do that.” - Phay Siphan
(Cambodian government spokesman reacting to the U.S. State Department downgrade of Cambodia's ranking in its annual human trafficking report. Leaving aside the many studies showing that Cambodian men make up the vast majority of sexual abusers of children and minors in Cambodia, this statement is so counter-factual as to almost defy reasonable retort.)

"If the Khmer Rouge killed a lot of people, they would not be stupid to keep it to show to everyone, they would destroy it to eliminate evidence. I believe that it was just staged." - Kem Sokha
(Opposition candidate apparently denying that the infamous S-21 Prison [Tuol Sleng] was real, seemingly claiming it was some sort of Vietnamese propaganda invention.)

"Atlantis-like lost city unearthed in Cambodia" - FOX news
(Headline of a story about the high-tech mapping of a Angkorian era city complex in Siem Reap, which was not lost, nor unearthed and certainly not 'Atlantis-like', whatever that is supposed to mean.)

“But not only did I not authorize his arrest, I also sent other agents to go to Micasa Hotel without notifying authorities. It was like signaling to him that the authorities knew, and he escaped...So you have to remember that I helped you (Kem Sokha) by breaking the law myself.” - Prime Minister Hun Sen
(While engaging in some political mud-slinging against the opposition candidate, apparently also publicly admitting to interfering with the police in order to facilitate the escape of an alleged sex criminal.)

"Any election result would be dismissed by the CNRP" - Sam Rainsy, paraphrase by Cambodia Daily.
(After saying that his opposition party CNRP would participate in the national elections, Sam Rainsy went on to say he would reject any election result, apparently including his own electoral victory.)

"Fairfax Media recorded the discovery of the first five temples after pushing through landmine-strewn jungle, swollen rivers and bogs with the expedition on a mountain called Phnom Kulen." - Sydney Morning Herald
(Article from SMH about the high-tech mapping of a Angkorian era city complex in Siem Reap, portraying itself as some kind of journalistic Indiana Jones, presumably with bullwhip and Fedora. They managed to work in a plug for the publisher as well.) 

"I hope people in Cambodia are discussing the unfolding tragedy: Stealing a generation: Cambodia’s unfolding tragedy." - Lindsey Murdoch
(Apparently, after almost a decade of the orphanage tourism problem here in Cambodia, dozens of discussions on travel boards over the last 8 years, several articles in the Cambodia Daily over the last two and a half years, several more articles in the international press including the very often cited Al-Jazeera piece last year and, of course, the well-publicized  Childsafe 'Children are not tourist attractions' campaign launched in 2011, it was his article 2 months ago in an Australian newspaper that may finally spark discussion of this "unfolding tragedy" here in Cambodia.)


  1. Actually, Lindsay Murdoch was author of the SMH articles on the Angkor lidar mission as well,so, hmm.
    In a bit of self-promotion I should note that Damian Evans, the lead author of the lidar paper getting all the press has a rather lengthy comment about the press coverage of this research on my blog here: (scroll down to the comments- can't seem to direct link). It's worth a read.

    1. Ooo. Double hit on Lindsey. Well, I hope he has a sense of humor, or a thick skin, or doesn't care about a little blogger like me.

  2. Ah heck, I decided to give Damian's comment his own post- so read it directly here:

    1. I linked your blog entry in the text above and I tweeted it last night. Good piece. Thanks for the info.