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.”
Abraham Lincoln 13 February 1861
The Democratic Republic of North Korea is a mess. That is no secret. The regime there has to scramble to keep their elite well fed and produce nuclear weapons. One of the strategies is setting up North Korean restaurants around the world, in sympathetic countries. This is one of them in Siem Reap. The restaurants all follow the same model: a bevy of young, pretty North Korean women who take the orders and serve the food, and then come back near the end of the meal to perform a medley of songs. And then all the hard cash goes back to Pyongyang.