Thursday, November 27, 2008

Recent News

After what seemed like an extended self-imposed period of silence Sam Rainsy is back. He recently spoke with the Voice of America Khmer edition returning from a private audience with the former King in Beijing. He deplored that the economy was bad – what else is new? – and blamed it on the world financial crisis – no, really? – and, of course, what would you expect, on bad governance. He was probably thinking of the $500 million the government could save by fighting corruption effectively. He also said people were protesting for solutions to their living and the coming months could lead to ‘turmoil’. What on earth was he thinking? Is he trying to incite a riot? Sam Rainsy, please stay quiet, it’s better. You can’t offer solutions; you can’t be constructive, so just shut up. Sorry, only fools still think you have a role to play in Cambodia.

The ban on marrying foreigners was lifted recently. As much as one can understand that the government wants to protect their poor, uneducated women, it nevertheless was a curtailment of civil rights to begin with. If two consenting adults decide to get married, it is not the government’s role to interfere. Just close down those marriage brokers. The law against human trafficking covers this trade adequately, doesn’t it?

But foreigners still need to apply at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for permission to get married. Is the government the guardian of all Cambodian women now? Foreigners must also be present in Cambodia. What about if they get married abroad? The U. S. for instance provides for a fiancée visa so the bride can go to the U. S. to get married to her U. S. groom. Or a woman is able to obtain a tourist visa to another country, stays for 3 months and gets married there? Are they legally married under Cambodian law?

I mean, I know that this regulation existed even before that decree, but one would expect that they come up with something more imaginative than marriage permits issued by the government.

Good news – the first American-owned bank opened in Phnom Penh. Wow, they have a capital base of a whopping $13 million. Yes, that’s what Cambodia needed, another bank, and so well-financed too. What does ‘American-owned’ actually mean? That they manage your money better than everybody else? Sure, we see that with all those American banks that are basically bankrupt and are now crying for government help. If these people are as smart as the ones in the U. S., stay away from that bank. A serious investor with $13 million would look for other places to put his money. If you are looking for a short-term quick return, Cambodia is the wrong place to begin with.

And finally, although this concerns Cambodia only indirectly, perhaps directly if you look at the Preah Vihear problem, when will responsible people in Thailand see that those demonstrations are ruining their country? The commander of the armed forces has called upon the prime minister to hold new elections and the PAD to disperse. The PAD's reply was that even with new elections the problems wouldn’t go away. What? Yes, it is a well-known fact that the PPP bought votes in the last election, but it was not a close call with a difference of almost 5 million votes in their favor. What the PAD seemingly wants is a return to a full-fledged monarchy. It is rumored they even have some royal backing (according to news reports in the New York Times, no less). It will be some time before Thailand can get back on its feet thanks to the PAD. Never mind, the impact of the world financial crisis, never mind the disastrous state of the Thai economy now. What are they thinking? Not of the common people, that's for sure.

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