Crematoriums are back in the political spotlight again, as Hun Sen and ranking members of the CPP want urban crematoriums moved out of Phnom Penh.
This is not a new phenomenon: in many interviews with Cambodians, both lay and monk, I heard story after story of conflicts between crematoria locations and local politicians. In each case, the interviewer made clear that the nearly uniform motive behind attempts to move crematoria out of the city were the rising price of land.
Huh? You say? Well, it’s really rather simple: While most Khmer have relatively few qualms about living near crematoria, ethnic Chinese, Koreans, and (less often) Japanese have (generally) such an aversion to it that they will not buy or develop land near crematoria. In the case of one very famous temple in Phnom Penh, this led to the falling apart of what would have been a very lucrative deal between a Chinese-backed hotel company and the owner of the land – a connected political party member.
So, with the land squeeze increasing, the dead are competing with the living for market share. Enjoy that sad bit of irony.
More analysis of the move is found here .
Or, as Laurie Anderson once put it:
Daddy daddy, it was just like you said
Now that the living outnumber the dead.