For the past week Cambodia has been experiencing major power cuts, more than the usual shortages. Actually the past four or five years in Phnom Penh have been relatively good after the Cambodian government erected power transmission lines and started buying electricity from Vietnam. It was good enough that at DDP we got rid of our generator because we weren’t using it any more.
All of a sudden, though, the government instituted six-hour rolling blackouts, starting after breakfast and ending at lunch time, or starting at lunch time and going to supper time. The following day the schedule switches so a morning blackout today means an afternoon blackout tomorrow.
The government has been quick to blame it on climate change. 60% of Cambodia’s electricity is hydropower and now at the end of the dry season there is little water in the reservoirs. Yes, the lack of rain has made the problem worse but the problem is caused by the government, not by climate change.
Look at the map. Thailand is our neighbor to the west. Laos is to the north. Vietnam is to the east. We’re all part of the same little peninsula. We have much of the same terrain, the same weather. But Thailand has electricity. Laos has electricity. Vietnam has electricity. What’s the difference? The government.
The governments in the other countries know how to plan and implement. They see people moving to the cities. They see cities growing higher and higher with skyscrapers demanding more electricity. They see the lifestyle increasing, especially the demand for air conditioning. And they plan for it.
The government of Cambodia is incompetent in many ways and this is an obvious example. The prime minister loves to let everyone know that he is the longest serving leader in Southeast Asia, more than three decades. These electricity problems arose since he took power. Guess who should take responsibility for the sad situation we find ourselves in now?
Jim Wallis of Sojourners is a prophet for our time. Here he speaks to the midterm elections:
“The horrifying, traumatic, and tragic deadly violence against Jews in Pittsburgh and African Americans in Kentucky last week, and the attempted assassinations of national political leaders and private citizens who have been critics of President Trump’s vitriol, have been clarifying. [These] elections are nothing less than a referendum on white nationalism in the United States….
President Donald Trump is deliberately and unashamedly using a political strategy of fear and hate — that can and has turned to violence. Without racial and hateful words of presidential political rhetoric with its anti-immigrant and refugee attacks, the Jews who are gone today might still be with us and their families.
Our faith is offended by these assaults that contradict the biblical commands to love and protect our neighbors. Our conscience is seared by the lies and strategies of hateful politics that will lead to more and more violence in this country and put the soul of our nation in jeopardy. Words matter and hateful words do lead to violence. Our commitment to our brothers and sisters under attack will lead us to pray, stand, act, and vote against the politics of fear and hate, because of our faith and patriotism.”
We just finished the second weekend of the campaigning period leading up to the general elections next Sunday. A lot of the activity at the start of this final week was centered on stages set up around the city. Click here to see some of the venues along the riverfront.
Jim Wallis is one of the strongest, clearest, and most authentic Christian voices speaking out now about the travesty that is the current president and his Republican administration. Wallis is the director and main voice of the Sojourners movement that is now promoting a Reclaiming Jesus campaign to counter the abuse of Christianity by Trump administration officials.
Here is a quote about Trump’s Helsinki lies and the walk-back lies put forward by him and Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
“…it very much appears that Republicans in Congress will take Trump’s half-hearted walk-backs and word games as good enough to leave the matter there. We will now see what the Republican leaders will say about the breaking New York Times story last night, that before his inauguration, Trump was shown intelligence indicating that Russian cyberattacks were personally ordered, by Putin, to sway the election. Trump was briefed. He knew, and has been trying to cover up that evidence since the beginning of his presidency.”
Cambodia will hold national elections on July 29th for the prime minister. The elections are basically a farce since the ruling party had the opposition party ruled illegal. There is a two-week campaigning period before the elections and that started last Saturday when there was great chaos throughout the city as the ruling party and eleven minor parties took to the streets with great fanfare and noise.
Today the Phnom Penh Post published this photograph and a short article about a bulldozer which was destroyed by an anti-tank mine in Phnom Penh on the weekend. It turned out the mine was in a truckload of dirt hauled from one of the provinces to be used in a construction project near this Buddhist wat. The driver was thrown over the wall and suffered serious injuries but survived.
The last mines were put down forty years ago but they’re still killing and maiming. We average a casualty every four or five days–after four decades.
In my eighteen years here in Cambodia, I have never seen a fire truck fighting a fire. In fact, I have only seen a fire truck on the street four or five times. I read in the paper that they occasionally do go to fires but usually part of the story is that they don’t actually do anything until the firefighters are paid on the spot.
Today I heard fire truck sirens four times and actually saw this one! All this activity probably means the government is getting ready to use the fire trucks against demonstrators. National elections are coming up in July and the trucks are probably part of the intimidation of free speech in the run up to the voting.
“I esteem foreigners no better than other people–nor any worse. They are all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon any of them it would be far better to lift the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them. And inasmuch as the continent of America is comparatively a new country, and the other countries of the world are old countries, there is more room here, comparatively speaking, than there is elsewhere; and if they can better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing in my heart to forbid them coming, and I bid them all God speed.”