Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, January 25, 2007


On the site of the expat oriented Khmer 440 site there has been some debate on traffic, accidents and (the lack of) law enforcement.
The first debate relates to advice on when driving in a taxi and the taxi hits someone and continues and the moral dilemma of being involved but not directly. The discussion sometimes loses track with the entrants focusing on each other rather than the dilemma.
The second debate follows very much in the same vein but starts off by discussing two incidents in which a driver was involved in an accident with mostly material damage and that it's possibly more advisable to do the hit and run rather than stop and end up on the losing end (despite being the safer and correct driver).
Two contributions to these discussions stand out. One relates to a person who stopped after approaching an accident site and assisting the victim only to be accused of been party to the accident. The other to a contribution stating:
'The topic of this thread is just one of the pitfalls of a country growing too fast. Certainly, the government will take better control over these situations as it looks to pass a certain plateau of growth in due time. The country is still being "hardwired" for infrastructure. This lack of infrastructure itself is a barrier for many corporations so the government for the moment has no financial incentives to invest money into a fair and just traffic system.
When the government begins to see (and hear from investing governments) that the lack of law and its enforcement is a major barrier for the next level of their economic growth, it's my opinion that you'll see major changes over night'.
This seems to be a bit unfair. Even in countries such as neighbouring Lao (with a one-party system) and Nepal during the 'open' democracy of the 1990's law enforcement especially concerning traffic regulations was and is enforced. This, despite both countries being equally or even poorer than Cambodia now. The notion that more cash is needed before law enforcement can kick-in seems a bit far-fetched (but supposedly supported by the influential clique governing the country). The current system of lack of lawlessness in all sectors of Cambodia favours the rich and those that have positions to defend rather than those in need of protection be it from unscrupulous land-grabbers, nation-robbing politicians or the well-to-do accident prone and hit-and-run rich. Justice is (in essence) for all, lack of law enforcement bears of the poor.
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