Hey, you wanna can of worms? Elizabeth Becker, journalist and long-time Cambodia watcher, including author of When the War Was Over, recently opened one, when she criticized the new draft NGO law in Cambodia, shortly to become, in all likelihood, enacted law. In that letter, titled, “Silencing Cambodia’s Honest Brokers,” she identifies NGOs as among the last of Cambodia’s ‘honest brokers,’ and places the entire story in the somewhat personal framework of her witness to the important Paris Peace Agreement.
Howdy, readers. I’ve been in the great Cascade Mountains of Washington State, and far from the internet. But I’m back now, working on my manuscript (yes, really), and trying to keep households and students from imploding (sort of). While I was gone, a lot of important things happened. Here are some of them!
Over at Slate magazine, Ken Silverstein does an excellent job skewering the self-serving culture of the NGO elites who rule Cambodian in tandem (and not a friendly one) with the CPP. It won’t be news to anyone who’s ever lived in the ‘Bodge, but it’s a good refresher. Go read.
Meanwhile, the Closing Order from the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC, aka the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) has been released, and the media are starting to talk about Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea, again. Here’s an article in the Guardian from the redoubtable Thet Sambath, the Cambodian journalist responsible for the most important film on the Khmer Rouge made, Enemies of the People. Enemies of the People is available on DVD now – buy it, watch it. Learn. As a different article said, it’s like watching a documentary on the Nazi Genocides narrated by the bad guys.
Also, there was a fascinating, important election in Thailand, which could have enormous implications (hopefully and likely positive ones) for Cambodia. We’ll see, but the upshot is that Thailand just elected its first female Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and the army has indicated that it will respect the results.
Also, important economic news out of Cambodia. Rice exports quadrupled, which is good for business, but should make Cambodian nationals nervous, since food security is getter worse every year. Cambodia experienced a 6.5% rise in food prices over the last year. Food security analysts point out that other countries have experienced 20% rises, and call that stable. Tell that to the peasants. If they’re interested in eating meat, prices are at least double the rise of general food increases:
In the first six months of 2011, beef has increased some 12.07 percent to 26,000 riel a kilogramme, smoked fish has seen a 22.63 percent increase to 16,800 riel, and pork has climbed 25.37 percent to 21,800 riel on Phnom Penh markets, the Commerce Ministry’s daily report on Friday showed.
As for the manufacturing sector, the Garment Manufacturer’s Association of Cambodia (GMAC) predicts a thirty percent rise in exports this year, while the anti-union draft law is receiving unified opposition from the unions. Meanwhile, primitive accumulation proceeds apace, with the cruelty in evidence, for example, in the repeated destruction of the shelters of already-evicted villagers from the notorious Dey Krahom collective.
The end of the semester got away from me folks, which means that today’s Sounding Cambodia will consist of a lot of links, videos, and topics, with minimal commentary. Lots of important stuff in there, though. Go read!
- Sand mountains during Khmer New Year (Video)
- Cash pledges from politicians – exactly what is going on?
- Violence against Cambodian Labor by the government
- Interviews with Rich Garella of Who Killed Chea Vichea?
- Nuon Chea and Cases 002 and 003 in the Extraordinary Chambers/Khmer Rouge Tribunal
- Would you like some Borax with your Cambodian food? Formalin? You’re welcome.
- Tiny Toones NGO – “Hey Babe” video.
- Cambodian Rice Exports to the Philippines
- Judy Ledgerwood’s awesome Summer ethnography school in Cambodia
- Damned Dams and their impacts on damned-near everything; an article in Critical Asian Studies by Ian Baird
- Book Review of Constance Wilson’s edited volume on the Middle Mekong River Basin
- Thai Politics – an election primer from Duncan McCargo
I’ve started a new practice here on Imagining the Real World. I’ve always used the “Sounding” tag to indicate a group of links to other internet-materials that are associated with each other by a particular subject matter: Cambodia, Buddhism, The Academy, Religious Studies, etc., etc.
However, starting today, I’m going to assign specific days of the week to specific topics. While some will come and go for the current period, Mondays will be my chance to Sound Off on links related to Cambodian Topics, Wednesday will look at Buddhism, and Friday will look at Religious Studies.
So, what’s on tap for the first thusly-organized Sounding on Cambodia?: Khmer Martial Arts (Bradal Serey), Expats and Global Apartheid, the online publication of sections of the Astrological Yearbook for the Khmer New Year (comin’ up, comin’ up!), a new website on Khmer Manuscripts (huzzah!), Border conflict with Thailand, Draft Laws on NGOs and Unions, and the implosion of the Sam Rainsy Party.