Grandmas, adolescents on motos common in Cambodia

IMG_4357

Older women driving a motorcycle or scooter — generically a “moto” — is a familiar sight in Cambodia.  This presumed family is in the thick of homeward-bound traffic, but “mom” and child wear no helmet as required by a much-ignored law.  Crossing the intersection behind them is a vendor with his wares.

In much of Southeast Asia, the streets are clotted with motos — motorcycles or scooters. Since they cost less than cars, the vehicles are the least expensive way to upgrade from traveling by foot or bicycle. They also are a major contributor to air pollution.

Because the two-wheelers are everywhere, foreigners quickly take their presence for granted and many expats adopt them for transportation.

You see drivers of every kind fearlessly navigating congested streets and, for the most part, skillfully dodging each other, bicyclists, pushcarts and SUVs. They speed (in relative terms) around obstacles, occasionally bump into each other and generally shrug at minor collisions. During the work day, traffic usually goes no faster than 20 miles per hour (33 km), but there are plenty of close calls.

Still,  Continue reading

Advertisements

With politics and human rights, expats have a problem

eople protest the detention of four human rights workers and an election official on Monday morning near Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison. Source: Phnom Penh Post

A few activists protest the detention of four human rights workers and an election official on Monday morning near Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison. Source: Phnom Penh Post

It is a debate that has persisted since long before I started making Cambodia my home: What should expats do or say when they object to the actions of a foreign government that permits them to live in its country?

The question surfaced again here in Cambodia when a Facebook “friend” posted a story that has dominated the three English-language dailies for days.

A subsequent report in the Phnom Penh Post on Wednesday centered on a speech in which the prime minister said he might seek to have five jailed Cambodians forgiven for their entanglement in what has been dubbed a sex scandal concerning the acting president of a political party opposed to his ruling one.  Hun Sen’s remarks followed Monday’s arrest of civil rights activists essentially for wearing black shirts as they headed to a demonstration in Phnom Penh to call attention to their plight.

If civil society groups hold back during legal proceedings, suggested the price minister, the arrested individuals could be released from custody on one condition.  He said:  Continue reading

Uneven journalistic standards the norm in Cambodia

Happy Khmer New Year!

six_people_arrested_in_a_solar_energy_scam_last_week_00_03_2016_supplied

Photo supplied by the police shows nearly naked defendants who were arrested on fraud charges.  It was published last month in the Phnom Penh Post.

Consider me to be a grammar Nazi.  Perhaps even worse, I tend to be a journalism tyrant as well, someone who finds himself, perhaps irrationally, irritated by lapses from commonly high journalistic standards.

I read Cambodia’s three English-language dailies online every morning or in print just about every afternoon that I am in Phnom Penh.  Rarely do I get through any of the publications without finding a lapse in standards that are, to my mind, unforgivable.

I decided one day in December to skim the three journals for their lapses over a few days. Herewith what I discovered: Continue reading

Investment in construction surges against all odds

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Source: Phnom Penh Post

The biggest disincentive for investing in land and new construction in Phnom Penh ought to be, in my view, how much of it is taking place. I have written several times in this space about the swelling bubble that I believe I am witnessing.

The bubble notwithstanding, other reasons would seem to militate against considering a building project in Cambodia, and I’ll get to those factors in a minute.

It is my belief that the dimensions of the growing bubble are clear: Construction and real estate investments achieved 13.75 per cent more growth in the third quarter over the same time last year. The government puts the combined worth at $1.752 billion, an increase in value of $1.54 billion over the previous year.

That recently persistent growth somehow has occurred despite Continue reading