Friday, April 30, 2010

The Hoax

By now this story has made the rounds, so more or less everybody in Cambodia knows about it; not only did blogs pick it up but the PPP found it newsworthy enough to dedicate an article to it; we all know now it was a hoax – whether intentional or unintentional we can just surmise; my guess is it was quite intentional. Khmer journalists sometimes have this foible to thumb their noses at their readers. And did they succeed this time!

KI-Media published an English translation taking it quite seriously; not to mention their readers who maden an almost unprecedented number of comments. The majority did fall for the story.

Even the Details-Are-Sketchy blog commented on it with proper outrage, although with her (?) usual sarcastic overtone.

Don’t people have any sense for reality any more, or do they really think the world, and especially Cambodia has come to this? I mean, think about it! A cool $1.0 million for a bride? It goes without saying this is for a virgin, a highly regarded female attribute in Asia. Although it is not uncommon that parents do sell the virginity of their daughter, with the girl ending up in prostitution in a lot of cases, that prize would deter even the most determined aphrodisiac-seeking Asian male. It is also not uncommon that wealthy parents seek out equally wealthy bridegrooms, but we were dealing with a cash-price here. Who wants to dish out that kind of money for the proverbial cat in the bag?

And really, I don’t think a bride is held that high in esteem by the rich young Khmer as one example shows. I met a son of a successful Khmer businessman not too long ago. He drives a Lamborghini (at $400K not for everyone, and this is not the only expensive car he owns). He was going on and on about his car, and one could see that this was really a very prized possession of his. I finally asked him whether he was married. He said, yes, he is. To my question who comes first for him, he only half-jokingly said, ‘They are both equally important to me’.

Anyway, whatever the editor was thinking, for this to appear in a newspaper as hard news would seem so far-fetched that one could ordinarily not help but conclude that this was a hoax. I was so amazed at the reaction and outrage this produced that I could only attribute this to people’s preconceived ideas about Khmer rich people and Cambodia in general. To them Cambodia is practically a cesspool, and anything is possible here. It is, of course, not surprising that the people who comment on KI-Media fell for it, as I believe their intellectual acumen is with a few exceptions somewhat lacking to begin with. But then we know those people don't know too much about Cambodia anyway.

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