November 11, 2012

I was at a drinks party the other day for a bunch of architects, hosted by the French embassy, and was lurking near the bar in an effort not to have to talk to any French people, when I saw someone I recognized. Unfortunately, I couldn’t place him, my memory being
(according to Blossom) “selective.”

He was a young Khmer guy whom I’d definitely seen around. I decided that he probably worked for an architectural firm. We smiled and exchanged pleasantries, and I continued lurking.

The guy was also fairly attached to the buffet-centric location, and seemed to be giving himself a
pretty free hand with the canapés. In fact, I got the impression that he’d missed lunch and breakfast, and was redressing this with the wilted sandwiches and cocktail sausages. But I thought no more of it.

As I was leaving, an hour or so later, the guy was standing outside on the pavement. “Hey,” he said. “You want a lift?” I shook my head, as I lived less than two hundred yards away, but impressed that he had a car. “No, it’s free,” he said, climbing onto the driving seat of a tuk-tuk. And then I realised where I knew him from: he was one of the gang of tuk-tuk drivers who live on the pavement outside my flat, and he’d driven me to work on numerous occasions. He waved cheerfully, and pulled into the traffic, full of French finger-food. I laughed.

I was reminded of this, and about people being where they shouldn’t be, after reading a story about a Cambodian tycoon’s son who has just been arrested for attempted murder, after trying to run over a man “who had spoken rudely to him.” But not on the street, but inside a police compound he had chased him into in his car.

The little shit, called Khy Dana, who had just been released from jail for some other undisclosed offence, had felt he was within his rights to pursue some poor moped-riding geezer through the streets in a high-speed chase, and to try to mow him down in his Landcruiser in front of dozens of Cambodia’s Finest. Apparently he was quite irritated at being arrested.

The sense of entitlement of some of the scions of the rich in this part of the world can be quite frightening. There are a bunch of clubs in Phnom Penh that are avoided by many seasoned westerners, as the offspring of the Cambodian kleptocracy have armed bodyguards who are more than willing to shoot people when ordered to do so, and these rich, charmless and snotty over-privileged tossers often like to provoke people in the name of fun.

In Bangkok a few months ago, the 27-year-old heir to the Red Bull fortune was accused of running over a police officer on his way home from a club, in his Ferrari. The officer’s body was dragged some distance under the car: the kid was caught because the police followed the trail of blood and engine oil back to the family mansion.

Initially he blamed the family gardener, but eventually confessed, and reportedly admitted murder, speeding, drunken driving, and cocaine use. No date has been set for a trial. His parents, worth $4.5 billion, must be so proud.

Yet I remember a story from The Hamptons a few years ago, where a deeply unattractive but awesomely well-connected PR specialst called Lizzie Grubman drunkenly, but precisely and deliberately, drove her Merc into a queue of people outside a club she wanted to get in to, hospitalising 16 of them. She served 37 days in prison for that. I prefer, I think, entitlement only to go as far as a few sandwiches.


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