Sou Sdei and welcome to Campuccino, your fortnightly dispatch of key headlines in Cambodia with a dash of opinion.
To new subscribers, welcome!
Guess what? With this issue, Campuccino is turning two years old! 🎉 While I am celebrating how far this little newsletter project of mine has come, I have come to a realisation that my single brain cannot do it all. That is if I want everything to be at the quality that I am happy with. With the deadline of my book project merely two months away, I feel very overwhelmed. Having this newsletter always in the back of my head does not help. Therefore, I’ve decided to distance myself from Campuccino for a bit to prioritise my headspace for the book.
That means I will publish only once a month, at the end of each month, for the remaining months of 2022. I hope to come back with the regular schedule in the new year with the book draft submitted to my publisher by then. Thank you for your understanding :)
In this issue: the first expressway, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and scam compound raids, and more.
Let’s start with good news this week. Sihanoukville expressway was finally opened for trial to the public. During whole month of October, users can travel free of charge. The 187-something-kilometer expressway is the first in the country; hence, the excitement was high on Cambodia’s social media. According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, approximately 9,000 vehicles traveled on the expressway on the first day of the trial. While I am happy for this new shiny expressway, I couldn’t help but take it with a grain of cynicism. With the road open exclusively for four wheelers and big motorcycles, I questioned the reality of the road use and silently predicted that other types of vehicles, animals and people might not obey the exclusive use of the road. And fair enough, we got reports of many things traveling the roads from a scooter to buffalos, to food sellers. 🤣
Another good news (imo) is the conclusion of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) 16 years and $337 million later. In its last trial, the KRT rejected an appeal by Khieu Samphan and upheld his life sentence. The 91-year-old last surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge top brass was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2018. How do I feel about it? I am glad it is over although 16 years was a long time to try three cases. Despite the life sentence, all three of the convicts got to live to their old ages when some of my grandparents, uncle, and other relatives disappeared or died of preventable health causes during that time. So no, the trial didn’t mean much to me because I believe all those millions of dollar could have been better spent elsewhere. However, I am also being mindful that to many people, it provides closure and some level of justice.
Making both local and international headlines, the scam issues in Cambodia finally received some levels of concrete intervention from the government. The interventions came in the format of raids. The raids started at four locations in Sihanoukville, continued to at least 11 locations in Phnom Penh, and 2 buildings in Siem Reap. While I welcome the news of these raids, I couldn’t help but questions why it took this long, especially when some of the raided locations are in plain sights. If you would like to get more details about the raids of scam compounds, see news report by VOD listed below:
Eerie Silence Descends on Notorious Sihanoukville Scam Compounds
Over 10 Phnom Penh Condos, Hotels Raided Over Trafficking, Online ‘Services’
Officials Speak Out on Compounds: As Many as 100,000 Foreign Nationals Came to Cambodia
Arts & Culture
✍🏽 Pteah Akarak is a book centered around Khmer typography inspired by the cultural and historical essence of Cambodia’s arts and designs. I think this is a very cool effort by a group of young people. While the exhibition showcasing the book already wrapped up on October 1, those who are interested can still purchase the book here.
🇰🇭 #BeyondtheGames is a campaign organised by the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee (CAMSOC) and Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia to “create and connect with the general public the feelings and pride of being Khmer”. The campaign was launched on September 30 counting down to 2023 when Cambodia will be the host for the 32nd SEA Games and the 12th ASEAN Para Games. Why am I talking about this? Because it is fun for me to do a textual analysis of the campaign video which convincingly tells all Cambodians to speak with one voice and to “unite”. The videos includes many culture signaling elements and ends with a video bumper in which the Win-Win monument is front and center followed by the glorious newly built Morodok Techo National Stadium.
Overheard on Twitter
Campuccino is a fortnightly dispatch of key headlines in Cambodia, written by @DarathteyDin.
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I love your work! I’ll bet the book will be a pièce de résistance.
Thank you for all you do.
It should-you are an excellent writer.