Good Evening Cambodia: Those Tuesday Blues

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Good evening Cambodia,

Today is March 27th, 2012.

Oh, I’ve got those Tuesday blues today. It’s nearly the middle of the week and if your like me in Cambodia, you’re poor, broke and waiting for that next paycheck at the beginning of the month. In Cambodia, it’s a life of feast and famine for poor old Whiskey Brain and other ESLers like himself. I’m so poor right now that I’ve had to switch over from Good Evening Cambodia’s gold standard and beverage of the immortals – Cutty Sark, to a more subdued and moniker inappropriate – Angkor Beer, for the time being.

Tonight the old lady will be cooking Whiskey Brain pork surprise for dinner. Personally, I don’t care what other slop is in the food as long as there is some meat in there to keep things balanced in the ole gut. Right now, I’m so poor, I’m lucky to be getting even that. In Cambodia, so the saying goes, no money, no honey – or in my case, it’s no money, no whiskey or red meat.

In the News

Hun Sen’s Nephew Caught Up in Drug Case 

According to the Australian newspaper, The Age:

Australian police suspect a nephew of Cambodia’s Prime Minister of involvement in a heroin trafficking and money laundering syndicate targeting Australia.

But a plan to arrest and question Hun To in Melbourne was thwarted because his application for a visa was denied by Australian embassy officials in Phnom Penh, with one official citing the need to avoid a diplomatic incident.

While news like this may come as no surprise to those of you living in a drug induced haze in the Kingdom, to the outside world this stuff is pretty damn shocking. Imagine the same thing happening to the nephew of almost any other president in the world and the unrelenting drubbing they would get from the press.

In the local papers today, Samdoch Hun Sen’s nephew wasn’t given much of a drubbing at all. The Phnom Penh Post even ran Hun To, the nephew’s side of the story. The Post’s story paints the nephew as many things all at once; he is fired up, ready to file complaints and at the same time, claiming that all is good between him and the Australians.

Hun To told the Post,

“I will meet [Minster of Interior] Khieu Sopheak to file a complaint to the Ministry of Interior, and then I will file another complaint to the Australian Embassy,” Hun To said. “I will also hire a foreign lawyer in Australia to work on this case and demand the newspaper show evidence of my involvement in those crimes.”

He went on to say,

“There is no denial of visas for me – I visited Australia three or four months ago.”

“To tell the truth, two years ago, I was offered Australian nationality, but I did not accept it,” he added, saying that he refused because it would not look good for him to have a foreign passport because he is related to senior political families.

This is another one of those “only in Cambodia” types of stories. Locally it will be quietly swept under the rug and forgotten soon after it was brought up; internationally it will be an embarrassment for Cambodia.  Family members of the elite are protected in Cambodia and the Australians know the score. They don’t want to make things uncomfortable for their trading partner over a nephew gone astray.

ASEAN Finance Ministers Meet in Phnom Penh

Streets in the capital were aflutter with flags today as ASEAN officials descended upon the capital for the 16th annual ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting. Police could be seen out in the city, dressed in full regalia, blocking traffic and generally causing mayhem for commuters so that officials could get to and from meetings in the city.  According to the Phnom Penh Post, “members of the 10-country association are expected to discuss strengthening regional financial ties and co-operation in the face of economic uncertainty in the West.”

Personally, I see these meetings as a waste of time and resources. It’s the end of the first quarter and the boys over at ASEAN need a vacation. What better place to meet than lovely Phnom Penh during the dry season? Much will be discussed during the ASEAN summit, but I wouldn’t expect much action at all. These summits are more of an opportunity for world leaders to meet and greet in a tropical destination than they are an opportunity to solve the world’s problems.

Man Tortured by Family Threatens Suicide After Their Imprisonment   

A Cambodian general has threatened to commit suicide after his family was imprisoned for kidnapping and brutally torturing him for refusing to sell an $80,000 track of land in Ratanakkiri province and give them the proceeds.

The most pussy-whipped man in Cambodia?

According to the Phnom Penh Post, “RCAF General Nuon Pak, 52, a military advisor to the Ministry of National Defence, previously requested charges against the quartet be dropped, telling the court on March 13 that he had forgiven his family.”

He told the Post,

“I have already withdrawn my criminal lawsuit against my beloved wife and sons … But the court has not considered it and still convicted them to jail,”…“I was very disappointed and hopeless with this court’s decision.”…“To help my wife and children from their imprisonment, I am now ready to … do everything for them. I dare to go into prison to replace them. And I also dare to commit suicide to exchange with their freedom.”

This guy takes Stockholm Syndrome to a whole new level. His family detained, beat and tortured him for two months, over land he wouldn’t sell. Does he actually think his family would have any qualms about murdering him? Mr. Pak needs to get as far away from his “family” as he can, and as soon as possible if he has any interest in living.

The Western Media’s Sentiment on the Khmer Rouge Trial 

Mark McDonald over at the New York Times has posted this article, which lays out pretty well western media’s current sentiment regarding the Khmer Rouge trial. My how the tides of opinion can change so quickly given the severity of the crimes those on trial are being charged with.

Quote of the Day: “If I was involved in crimes like that, there would be no need for Australia to arrest me, Prime Minister Hun Sen would order me arrested in our country.” – Hun Sen’s nephew attempting to explain his innocence to the Phnom Penh Post.

Song of the Day:

Hun Sen Meme from here.

 

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The Whiskey Brain has been sauntering around Asia for well over the last decade. He is originally from rural Manitoba, but has called a host of Asian capitals, including Phnom Penh home over the years. The Whiskey Brain likes to start from the lowest common denominator and work his way up. He is a true believer in the sentiment that, "if there was hope, it must lie in the proles."

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