Crossing Cambodia

Monday, April 06, 2009

Chasing Cars, 6 April 2009

Sticking your neck out? It's common knowledge that to do so in Cambodia, is to risk revenge. On my blog, I have no problems in criticizing poor policies, poor law enforcement, poor politicians. But singling out individuals? Or institutes? That's .... different.
  • However Paul has no such qualms. Frustrated at the injustice he complained in the Phnom Penh Post (April 1, 2009) and even mentioned the offenders license plate! Hurrah! '
    The group [Three silver vehicles - all sporting Royal Cambodian Armed Forces licence plates. Two were four-wheel drive saloons, and the third was a four-wheel drive pickup truck] purchased tickets, and all three RCAF-plated vehicles drove down the wrong side of the road and took up positions at the front of the queue. As a result, the eighth and ninth cars in our group were forced to miss the ferry when it finally arrived.
    Surely the vehicle bearing the licence plate RCAF 23607 and the two other vehicles have no right in times of peace to behave in such an arbitrary fashion, showing absolutely no respect for their fellow citizens.
    The time has come for the use of RCAF number plates to be reviewed, as is the case with the police. What are such plates doing on fancy four-wheel drives? They should be confined to purely military vehicles that are conducting military business, not military families on private jaunts'.
    My only question: was this article placed as a April fools joke? However that doesn't seem to be the case. On KI Media there were no less than 22 comments added, some of which had comparable experiences.
  • Despite aforementioned being above the law, besides their license plates, they will probably also be recognisable by their lack of helmets. Let's hope Darwins laws apply here!
    'Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday requested that traffic police continue the enforcement of a new law requiring motorbike drivers to wear protective helmets. "When I take the car, I see many motorbike drivers not wearing helmets, so please continue educating people about wearing helmets in order to protect their lives," he said during the inauguration of the Hun Sen Quay in Preah Sihanouk province'.
    Education or law enforcement?
  • Law enforcement? Phnom Penh Confidential shares his experiences of the law enforcement in practice:
    ' "License. You need to have license." Didn't have it with me but told him [policeman], "I have license in my house." Again he says, "License." And again I reply, "I have my house. You come with me and I will show you my license." We go back and forth on this one a few times.
    He finally decides to try "hat" again. And I am ready to pay 2,000 so I ask him how much he wants for no hat. The bossman sitting under the umbrella speaks up and says, "Sir, go on." And off I go'.
  • Khmer New Year is just around the corner. If not having a military license plate expect long waits when heading east.
    'Official says holiday travellers could face 5-hour delays at Neak Leung ferry'.
  • Are boats in Cambodia safe?
    '"We were crammed with 100 others onto a tiny boat - the boat was about 3 metres wide - the top deck, which is where we were, you were sat on the top of the boat (no seats) - it was similar size to a narrow boat in the UK (although maybe slightly longer)- there were so many people on board you couldn't move - after 7 hours (we were running late!)of sitting in the same position it was just too much.Around the sides of the boat is no rail - just a 35cm walkway. There was not a life boat, or even belt, in sight.We felt ourselves burning and tried to move inside but that was also crammed - we couldn't get in.
    When you see the pictures of the boats, they all look great - big boats, comfortable seats etc - this is not the case - DO NOT BE FOOLED.
    When we showed our photos of the boat to the receptionist in the hotel in Siem Reap she was shocked - she sells the tickets (but shows the picture of a luxury boat) - she was totally unaware of what the boat is really like!!"
  • KFC is becoming increasingly common in Cambodia. From came this great advertising ploy. KFC goes into potholes:

    Well, there's enough opportunity for that in Cambodia!
  • Statistics. Handicap International Belgium and the Cambo government are at odds concerning last years data. But not to mind:
    ' ''Despite those discrepancies, both government and HIB statistics indicate the country 's road are growing safer, an least in terms of fatalities. Barring a surge in casualties when figures are available for December,it is unlikely HIB's 2008 figures will match 1545 deaths recorded nationwide by the group in 2007'.
    Good news or not?
  • More roads are good for the economy. But not so good for nearby residents:
    'Homes and fences belonging to residents of Teuk Thla and Phnom Penh Thmey communes in Sen Sok district were demolished by Phnom Penh authorities on Monday to make way for a road expansion project, with witnesses reporting that hundreds of armed police were deployed in the action'.
  • First hand experience of passing a Khmer driving test, published in the Phnom Penh Pocketguide:
    'I was then ordered to sit at a desk made for an under six-year-old child in a room covered in propaganda posters condemning drinking while driving or having six cows too many in your truck. I was with a crowd of people who were also being tested. It was as though we were filling out a prison form.
    The first question went something like: if a wild Mongolian hare is running at a speed of 16km per hour that is being chased by a golden eagle flying at 25km per hour with only 1.096712km separating them, how long will it take for the eagle to catch the hare? It seemed unreal at the time and I just stared at each question not knowing if I should even attempt to answer them. Maybe it was a joke.
    a military officer walked up to me, asked me with a sheepish grin if I knew the answer, then swiped the paper off my desk and vanished. I followed him until I lost him in a crowd of yelling people outside the reception office.
    Worried this might turn into a scam to get money from me in order to finish the “free” test, I started asking questions of anyone looking like they worked at the ministry. Finally I received a useful answer. “Ah. Your Khmer isn’t perfect so the answers will be put on the test for you. Just have a seat and relax.”
    he escorted me into the transportation office where I was greeted by the minister himself and given a glass of water. We had a pleasant conversation and I answered all the usual questions asked to a Khmer-speaking foreigner. Twenty or so minutes passed while we chatted away and, before I knew it, I was being wished good luck as a new driver and handed my temporary driver’s licence with the promise I’d get the plastic one in a fortnight. I was ready to hit the streets'.

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