Happy Labor Day to readers in the U.S. I wish there were happy news to report from here in Cambodia. The latest news is anything but that.
For reasons that ought to be obvious, I will refrain from writing a post that is otherwise opinionated. Instead, I am providing several links from over the weekend that I urge you to check out:
- A quality newspaper is forced to close and it goes out with a bang.
- An opposition leader is arrested in the middle of the night, putting the only party that could beat the ruling party on the brink.
- Kem Sokha’s arrest a long time coming.
- Government adds more troops.
- Radio stations barred from carrying VOA and Radio Free Asia news in addition to 19 others taken off the air.
- U.S. expresses grave concern.
Fearful themselves or having heads in the sand, NGOs and organizations with major ties to the West such as Chambers of Commerce have been largely silent. Little has been heard to date from most embassies as well.
Conversations I have had online and in person with a number of westerners and Cambodians, plus comments on social media, contain a mix of depression and resignation. Many say that the latest earth-shattering developments were inevitable.
What the news means for me personally is unclear. I do much appreciate the opportunity to reside in Southeast Asia. Moving is easy enough, but what other countries in the region have demonstrated a worthy respect for human rights, the rule of law and an intolerance of corruption? Not Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam or Thailand.
Perhaps Singapore comes closest, but the cost of living there rivals Manhattan’s, from which I retired at the end of 2013 in favor of a country where I have personal connections and enjoy numerous other positive attributes.
For the time being, Phnom Penh will continue to be my home. But do stay tuned.