Sax machine

October 19, 2016

I’m currently keeping a file on my computer desktop, to which I add stories from the Cambodian press which strike me as being particularly telling. I call it Ongoing Cambodian Stupidity. Lest anyone think that I have it in for Cambodia, I could clearly compile evidence of stupidity from almost anywhere. Brexit; Donald Trump; the Great British Bake Off – there is seemingly no end to muddled minds. But here are some more gems of sensible thinking from the Kingdom of Wonder.

A senior Forestry Administration official was released without charge after drunkenly killing a motorist with his car and leading police on a high-speed chase in Siem Reap province, because he had no “intention to murder” the victim, a court official said.

While “extremely drunk,” Yan Sideth hit a village security guard on a motorcycle. Police chased him for 13 kilometres. Despite police suggesting charges of speeding, drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving resulting in death, the chief prosecutor decided to release Yan without charge.

A prosecutor’s spokesman said that the victim had been at fault for driving in front of a speeding car. A spokesman for the Institute for Road Safety, said “It is always difficult to bring justice to victims when the provokers are powerful government officials or rich people,” he said.

Meanwhile Phnom Penh authorities said the chief monk of a pagoda was defrocked after being accused of “encouraging his disciples to drink, take drugs and fraternise with women.” The monk and four novices were defrocked after they were arrested for smoking crystal meth in the monastery. A spokesman said that “after the arrest of those monks, authorities found many empty beers hidden under the Buddha statue in the dining hall.”

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen recently sent a pair of direct messages to acting Cambodia National Rescue Party president Kem Sokha, the first of which threatened “bloodshed” if protests confronted his eldest son in Australia, according to members of the opposition.

According to sources, the premier then said the party should remember what happened when anti-government protesters confronted him in Paris last October – a reference to the vicious assault of two CNRP lawmakers outside the National Assembly by soldiers from the premier’s personal bodyguard unit.

A party spokesman would only say the party had received a “threat to our safety.” He added that the party wanted the situation to “cool down” and would focus on encouraging supporters to register to vote.

And finally, for now, both Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk and Thailand’s late and much-lamented King Bhumibol Adulyadej were fluent French and English speakers and “shared a deep appreciation for jazz, making names for themselves as saxophonists.”

Despite being hugely important figures in the histories of their respective countries, the two were not particularly close. Apparently Bhumibol came to consider his Cambodian counterpart “a nuisance, in part because in 1954 Sihanouk apparently borrowed a gold-plated saxophone of the king’s and didn’t return it.”



I’m posting this on a weekend so that no one has to read it. It will be of limited interest to the general reader. However: I was asked at work to put together a timeline of Cambodian history over the last 20 years: the length of time the Phnom Penh Post has been publishing. Rather than make a scene about being asked to do intern-level scut-work, I just did it. It took me some hours, because such a thing doesn’t exist anywhere else. And that’s why I present it here: researchers, historians, whomever: these are the highs and lows of the last two decades in Cambodia:

January 1993: UN civilian agencies and NGOs request a public meeting to discuss election progress and the misconduct of UN peacekeepers.

May 1993: General election brings Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh as co-prime ministers into coalition government.

September 1993: New constitution promulgated, UNTAC dissolved.

April 1994: Two young Britons and an Australian kidnapped and killed by Khmer Rouge

July 1994:  Khmer Rouge murders an Australian, a Briton and a Frenchman, because they were “spies” for Vietnam

March 1996: Mine clearance expert Christopher Howse and translator murdered by Khmer Rouge

March 1997: Grenade attack in Phnom Penh kills 16, injures 150

July 1997: Prince Ranariddh leaves Cambodia for France, accusing Hun Sen of staging a coup.

April 1998: Pol Pot dies.

May 1998: Prince Ranariddh pardoned by King Sihanouk and returns to Cambodia.

April 1999: Cambodia becomes tenth member state of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

December 2001: First Mekong bridge opens in Cambodia.

February 2002: Cambodia’s first commune elections held.

March 2002: Actress Angelina Jolie adopts Cambodian child.

January 2003: Rock star paedophile Gary Glitter deported from Cambodia

January 2003: Military planes fly hundreds of Thais out of Phnom Penh after violent demonstrations over the control of Angkor Wat.

August 2003: Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cambodian People’s Party officially win general election.

January 2004:  Labour leader Chea Vichea, affiliated with opposition party, shot dead in Phnom Penh.

June 2004: Cambodia’s two main political parties announce a power-sharing deal, ending an 11-month political deadlock.

October 2004: National Assembly ratifies agreement with the United Nations to establish a tribunal to try senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

October 2004: King Siahanouk abdicates.

October 2004: Norodom Sihamoni becomes king

February 2005: Opposition leader Sam Rainsy goes into self-exile.

March 2005: 20 convicts killed escaping from jail in Kampong Cham

June 2005: Two-year-old Canadian boy killed at international school in Siem Reap after gunmen take dozens of pupils and teachers hostage.

July 2006: Khmer Rouge ‘butcher’ Ta Mok dies

June 2007: 22 people killed when a plane crashed near Bokor Mountain.

Feb 2009: Trials of senior Khmer Rouge leaders begin.

October 2009: Overloaded ferry sinks on the Mekong, 17 killed.

July 2010: Comrade Duch found guilty of crimes against humanity.

September 2010: War crimes tribunal indicts four former Khmer Rouge leaders.

November 2010: Diamond Island tragedy; 456 people die in stampede.

July 2011: Cambodia’s stock exchange opens.

February 2012: Cambodia takes the chair of ASEAN.

April 2012: Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority becomes first company to list on Cambodian Stock Exchange.

April 2012: Environmental activist Chut Wutty shot dead.


If there is anything glaring I’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let me know. This post is merely a resource for other people, and could be far better….