In Cambodia, dealing with refugees remains hot issue

Sitting left to right, Brooke, Siphan, Coghlin, Tai.

Sitting left to right, Jim Brooke, Phay Siphan, Denise Coghlin, Billy Tai.

During a panel discussion last week, four individuals failed as expected to arrive at unanimous agreement about the world’s refugees in general and, in particular, the four who have arrived in Cambodia from Australia.

Former New York Times journalist, Jim Brooke, a friend who is editor of the year-old Khmer Times newspaper, stuck to the theme of a column in which he denigrated the men, women and children who braved the perils of crossing the high seas to enter Australia from distant shores.

Those souls have made it only to the independent nation of Nauru, where some 1,000 of them are held in a detention center run by Australia in what are described as deplorable conditions akin to a concentration camp’s.

Saying that Australia has the fifth highest per capital income in the world, Brooke characterized the migrants as Continue reading

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Let’s lie down, watch movie and enjoy delivered food

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Welcome to the Empire movie theater cum bar cum restaurant in an area popular with Westerners.  Inside, you can glimpse the whole lobby with diminutive bar and, beyond, a kitchen unseen in the photo.  Nachos, hamburgers, curry and beer can be yours during films.

It surprised me to discover that recently released movies of some quality are available to watch in three Phnom Penh movie houses.

But banish any thoughts of desirable fare at conventional cinemas, which exist here in Phnom Penh seemingly to screen mainly combat, science fiction and action films of questionable merit and sometimes of recent vintage.  (Actually, Noah was showing the week of its U.S. release.)

Before the Khmer Rouge horror, there were some 30 grand cinemas in Phnom Penh filled with cigarette smoke and rapt audiences.  They are now gone, but for two that cling to their original intent. At least one is a nightmarish slum.

In a shopping mall, the Legend is one of three multiplexes as the place to go for overwrought fare in air-conditioned comfort and 3D. Among those “coming soon” as I drafted this post last month were Continue reading