Crossing Cambodia

Monday, January 22, 2007

Reporting your neighbour to ...

For those of you not familiar with the day-to-day ongoings in Phnom Penh, be informed: the English speaking expatriate community try to stay in touch with all ongoings by purchasing a 'not even so bad' newspaper called the Cambodia Daily, published six times per week. The sixth time is a weekend edition with little or hardly any local content. Through some kind of arrangement the Daily can access foreign press and freely replicates articles of little relevance, especially in the weekend.
Last weekend (January 20-21, 2007) an article was published called 'Snoop next door', originally from the Wall Street Journal. The full article however was not published (as available on internet), but a shorter version. The main theme of the article concerns how society is trying to wrest control over the individual via internet sites which frame and blame the deviants. The original article delves much more in the total society thing, whereas the article published here in Cambodia has a more 'traffic misdemeanors' side. It also refers to some links such as:
This site is very US based. It gives an overview of number plates and with a click you can view a report, but no photo's. Example:
'Travelling West Bound on Bearse Ave going towards Dale Mabry in Tampa, Fl about 3pm. The driver of this 1998 or 1999 Mitsubishi Galant was a white male, age 50-55, dark hair, sunglasses, light color shirt. He wasn't speeding or weaving or doing any of the things most people write about here. He was just DRINKING A BEER!!! Yes MORON!! I called 911 and I hope the Hillsborough County Sheriffs through your old ass in JAIL!! CAN YOU BE ANY MORE STUPID? HOW ABOUT TRYING TO DRIVE BACKWARDS. THAT MIGHT IMPROVE YOUR JUDGEMENT A LITTLE'!!
Though aboveaverage seems to concentrate on the positive, it is mostly about poor drivers. It has a great statistical page: in 5 years on the net, 16.609 incidents were reported, 95% of them were 'bad guys'. What's even more revealing is that over 10.000 incidents were reported by just 2 persons, meaning they reported three incidents per day for five years! There also seems to be some biasness in the car make: Toyota got reported most.
Irate drivers is a site to report poor US drivers. No photo's, just:
    'Motorcycle cop was driving 40 m.p.h. over the speed limit (approximately) 94 mph without his headlight turned on. I saw his bike parked at the weigh station a few miles up. So, he certainly WAS NOT on a call. Why is it that these cops are allowed to break the law everyday and NOT get tickets yet are able to give tickets to citizens. Makes me sick. He was going too fast for me to see his plate or to get a photograph'.
A UK based site. BMW gets the most incidents reported (does this reveal a sort of social tension, non-existent on the other side of the Atlantic?). They also mention 'the most easily annoyed member': he, who reports the most. They have photo and non-photo reports:
'As you can see from the photograph, the idiot decides not only to park on a bend, but sticks 90% of the car onto the path too. Not only would this be difficult to get past in a wheelchair or with a pushchair, but its even difficult for a pedestrian to get past. Also, whichever house the car was at, both houses near to where it was parked had empty drives, so it s not as though there was no place else to park'!
You can also sort reports by type of incidents ('Mobile phone pratt' or 'MLH: Middle Land Hog'). Oddly enough it also links through to 'speedcam' so you know how not to get a ticket. And to Canadian(!) accident lawyers.
A not so very special exclusive US site. Entries are as such:
'This SUV was left driverless parked in the bike lane. They were using it as a loading area for the hotel'.
Though US based it reports also from other countries (none so far from Cambodia).An entry (with photo) from Singapore:
'A Ferrari with a brand new number plate in a disability parking space. Now, I've seen it all. What, other lots are not good enough? Anyway, justice was served: a Parking Attendant issued a parking offence notice. Perhaps the number plate on the car should have given the owner an inkling of the state of his luck'.
The reporters are dedicated. One even reports a pile of dirt (in California) on a parking space for the lesser accessible individuals:
'This isn't so much an infraction as a dumping. The space where you see that big pile of dirt is an accessible parking bay. Does that pile of dirt have a permit? I don't see one'.
DHL van's also parked in the same reserved spaces (from Auckland, NZ) as was a 'yellow construction truck' on university terrain in Palmerston North, NZ.

Their motto:
'Sick of a car taking up two spaces on the street? How about a car too close to yours? What about the car at the mall parked diagonally? Now you can do something about it. Simply download a notice and place it on the car's windshield. The owner of the vehicle will be informed of their asshole status as well as the proper tips to improve their poor parking techniques. It's time to put an end to asshole parking, or at least to make fun of it'.
The site has hardly any reports, just lot's of photo's of cars parked outside of the parking spaces.

One site missed was the monkeymeter. In the US you can rate your own or a neighbouring city for road rage: New Brunswick is leading the rage. A site dedicated to US road rage complete with photo's and city top ten of road ragers.

What all these sites have in common is that they are assisting law enforcers trying to bring a certain politeness in traffic (bringing it back?). In the western more effluent world, the attitudes seem to be getting worse. As law enforcement is very often a case of efficiency, these sites have been created by volunteers intent to get rid of their own rage on the fellow citizens ...

Back in August Crossing Cambodia referred already to the Malaysian state site dedicated to improving traffic politeness. The Malaysian government sees it as their task to (re-) educate their citizens. Since Crossing Cambodia's referral, the site has not been very active.

The photo above was an 'awarded' photo: not so common in Malaysia apparently ...

It reports that the number of fatal accidents dropped in 2006 (reported on the 2nd of January 2007!), but the number of fatalities rose slightly. The response: 'random drugs tests'! The 'Hall of Shame' photo section is dedicated to motorcyclists with no helmets (shock, horror!)

But the relevance of all this for Cambodia: zilch. What warrants setting up a web site in 1 country is a big laugh over here. Rules are non-existent, enforcement ditto. So why complain about drivers parking on the walkways, clients of a Mobile phone network blocking Sihanouk Avenue, cars driving 100 km an hour in busy built up area's, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc., etc., ....?

A radical solution to the Asian anarchy (is it limited to Asia?) is presented by Guangzhou, China: banning all motorcycles from the city. Logic: driving a motorbike, you need a helmet, means you are invisible, means you are a criminal. No motorcycles, no criminals. It's true!
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