Crossing Cambodia

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Chasing Cars, 3rd of May, 2009

Just a couple of news items.
  • Leafing through this weekends Cambodia Daily, I was struck by the aggressive (for them) journalism being undertaken. Not what we expected of them.
    So are they trying to catch up with the Phnom Penh Post? Trying to win back readers?
    How about putting their stories on the net? Since the Post went Daily nearly all references to the daily have disappeared from the i-net.
    Anyway back to traffic. Front page caption:
    'Police Fail To Enforce Speed Laws by Deadline.
    After weeks of public announcements warning that Phnom Penh traffic police would begin strictly enforcing the city's new laws against speeding and drunk driving on May 1, the much-hyped equipment for identifying speeding and drunken drivers was noticeably absent from the roads Friday.
    Why? Feeble explanation 1:
    'Deputy National Police Chief Ouk Kimlek said the police needed more time to publicize the new rules against speeding and drinking and driving, though TV and radio commercials announcing the plan have been airing since at least mid-March'.
    Feeble explanantion 2:
    'Phnom Penh Traffic Police chief Tin Prasoeur said that his officers, despite having received training, still had concerns about using devices such as the alcohol Breathalyzer and speeding cameras'.
    So did they get trained? Or was the training just on paper? What are the concerns? Why does this explanation conflict with feeble explanation 1? The traffic police chief seems at a loss:
    'He [Tin Prasoeur] did not know why the equipment needed to be examined further.
    HIB now goes on the offensive:
    'Ryan Duly, road safety adviser for HIB: "Education is an important part of road safety, but you have to follow through with enforcement".
    Even more mind boggling are the final comments by the "spokesperson" of the National Police (though earlier id. as Deputy National Police Chief, is it either/or or both?):
    "it is unrealistic to expect "100 %" enforcement'.
    But 0% is realistic?
    Oddly though, the Phnom Penh Post mentioned on Friday that the new equipment would be deployed on Monday .... Maybe the Cambodia Daily reporters should start reading the Post!
  • The reporters of Cambodia Daily seem to have to be making up, for taking a holiday during Khmer New Year. On page 18, a full article captioned by
    'Helmet Use on the Wane, despite New Law: Watchdog'.
    Crossing Cambodia has drawn attention to this issue, already back in February, no less. Then again, Crossing Cambodia is no government watchdog, probably more a particularly unreliable source of information. Anyway, the Watchdog they refer to is Handicap International Belgium (the aforementioned HIB).
    'The helmet wearing rate was much higher in the first few weeks before dropping off, partly due to lax law enforcement, Handicap officials said.
    The key to maintaining a higher level of helmet wearing is twofold: The police must maintain the threat of punishment for violators, while the government and NGOs must go further with their road safety eduction programs. He [HIB Official] said that the 3,000-riel (US$ 0,75) fine handed out to violators is too small, as it did not deter many drivers and did not motivate police to enforce the law to the fullest'.
    Can somebody explain why the police must be motivated to enforce the law? Is it not their job?
    "Phnom Penh Municipal Traffic Police Tin Prasouer denied this week that his officers had become lax in their enforcement of the helmet law, saying police continue to fine drivers not wearing helmets. Municipal police chief Hin Yan acknowledged the sharp decline in the percentage of drivers wearing helmets compared with the law's initial wave of compliance after Jan. 1'.
    But the drop was not due to lax enforcement. No, this guy (Hin Yan) knows the reason:
    "Many people have never used them before, so they might feel uncomfortable to use them because sometimes they can't hear anything," he said.
    But that does not explain the drop? Or is the urge to phone and moto around town increased dramatically?
    The reporters then do some of their own research. In a 15 minute time period they see 30 helemtless drivers wizz past 4 police officers on a city intersection with no action being taken. Then, after half an hour, the police retain life functions and clear the road for an oncoming motorcade. They pull everybody to the side of the road, but still fail to pick up helmetless riders. The article concludes that more promo needs to be done, why not conclude that the police should do their job? Or are they hopeless?
Rattanakiri, no roads. But with helmets!
  • Furthermore, this weekends Cambo Daily reports on the usual occurrence of a traffic accident between equals going wrong. This time a 'minor fender bender' erupted in an all too predictable shoot-out between occupants of a Toyota Landcruiser and a Honda CRV. Apparently the Landcruiser guys lost and their car has been impounded. The CRV got away. The report explains that this was the second shootout this week, that the know of.
    'Thursday nights incident was the second this week in which a minor traffic accident resulted in guns being produced and a driver being assaulted. On Wednesday at lunchtime a man was allegedly assaulted and had a weapon drawn on him from behind in a minor accident on Norodom Boulevard. Police arrived on the scene, but allowed the armed man to leave, claiming both sides had come to an understanding.
    One human rights monitor said he'd be surprised if police actually pursue either part. "It goes back to the problem of immunity.
    I think that this is not news to anyone that state actors have enjoyed immunity for well over a decade in instances as these".
    So it's actually not a news item. Oh did I mention that the CD also had on it's front page the CNN allegations that the biggest show trial in Southeast Asia ever is in danger, due to a senior Cambodian official pocketing $40,000 monthly and the government seeing nothing wrong in this?
  • More battles.
    'Boaters Battle for Chong Keas',
    the Phnom Penh Post reports on 30 April 2009.
    'Travel agents and boat owners are fighting the Sou Ching Co, which runs the port in Chong Kneas and is striving to regulate tours through the popular lakeside village.
    On the waterfront in Siem Reap, a battle is brewing between those who believe that Sou Ching is bringing a desperately needed level of organisation to lake tourism and those who say the company is imposing ill-advised, draconian policies without consulting the people who rely on boat tourism'.
    The good news:
    'Some boat owners are also burned by the fixed pricing system, which prevents them from fleecing tourists. "They're not losing their livelihood," said a source who works at Sou Ching. "They're losing their corrupt livelihood."
  • Meanwhile over in the port of Kep, the Japanese are moving in to ... get the Vietnamese to move in!
    'A Japanese company is investing US$4 million to develop a tourist port in Kep province, the provincial tourism chief said Thursday. Rotong Development Group is behind the deal that would allow Kep to receive cruise ships and link the town to Phu Quoc island in Vietnam, provincial authorities said. A ferry capable of accommodating 220 passengers would operate under the first phase of the project'
    Though I've heard it before, there's no reason not to think it won't happen.
    'Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the development will begin soon and would "only take six months to complete".
    Don't hold your breath on this one. PM Hun Sen is appalled by the Japanese:
    '"I have told the [Japanese government] to begin building the Special Economic Zone. We already signed an agreement in 2006, but we are still waiting," Hun Sen said'.
  • Is Cambodia a pothole? Apparently so, so says the Bangkok Post (3-5-09).
    'The Trans-Asian Highway meant to link many countries has hit a big pothole in Cambodia'.
    Biased bigots, I hear you say? Or are the Thai ignorants referring to Tonle Sap? Siem Reap? Poipet even, that's a giga pothole. Calm down.
    'Thousands of angry Cambodians are thwarting plans to complete a final stretch of tarmac in the much vaunted Trans-Asian Highway that will link Singapore through Thailand to China, Russia and Europe by a network of all-weather modern roads'.
    But mea culpa:
    'Plans for a Trans-Asia Highway date back to the 1950s when it was first mooted. But for the next 40 years overland routes from Singapore ended in Thailand with wars and political detentes in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma effectively severing the Malay Peninsula from the rest of Asia'.
    Thailand's the obstacle, not?
    'Corresponding highways [of the Trans-Asia Highway] in Thailand and Vietnam have been laid out as construction from Poipet on Cambodia's western border to Siem Reap and the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, and then on to Phnom Penh, were completed. From Bavet on the eastern Vietnamese border the highway stretches 142km westwards to Kien Svay, but remains 13km short of its final destination, the Monivong Bridge that crosses the Bassac River on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
    Japan is funding the final stretch'.
    Aha, Japan again! The article continues to describe the problems, basically because the process of building a new road leads to displacement of some people and the process of resettlement is not transparent (i.e. corrupt). So maybe it is Cambodia! Then again, the link still misses a Mekong bridge, which is most probably going to be built by the .... Chinese. Aha!
  • Trans-Asia Highway or not, the PPP has an article with a cycling duo:
    'Between the exhaust fumes, colossal Land Rovers and hoards of hell-bent motorbike drivers, Cambodia's roads do not strike the visitor as particularly cyclist- or eco-friendly. Nonetheless, a duo of determined athletes are taking on the Kingdom's highways in the name of environmental awareness, armed only with their bikes, good will and a significant degree of road rage. In fact, with 80,000 kilometres and 45 countries under their figurative belts.
    But it is primarily a passion for the environment that is driving the pair, who are using their journey to teach youth in classrooms in each country they visit about the dangers of climate change and environmental degradation.
    The state of the Cambodian roads and physical environment has been particularly troubling.
    "Cycling and walking is seen as being for poor people here, so everyone is rushing out to get their own moto or Range Rover without awareness of the long-term consequences," she [Stani Martinkova] said'.
    A pity that the Velomads have not an updated web-site. And a pity that it's the farangs once more who need to highlight the advantages of 'slow travel'.
Related Posts with Thumbnails