Somebody's Not Reading Google News – Cambodia and Corruption

I have google news subscribe me to anything that has the word Cambodia in the story. I usually get a few nice stories that way, and keep up, roughly, on what’s shaking in the land I love.

Sometimes, that leads to a few strange coincidences. Coincidences which make me wonder who’s drinking the koolaid.

For instance. In the News Observer, I read a news/opinion piece from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Joel Brinkley. The title of the piece?

The World Leader in Corruption is – Cambodia

Sure, we all know that Cambodia ranks as the second most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International. Or that it is ‘number one’ in Asia. (this, according to the 2007 report in which Cambodia was included for the first time. link.) But what excellent journalists do is to put a human face on the picture. What human faces did Joel Brinkley choose?

Hun Chea, a nephew of Cambodia’s prime minster, was speeding along a busy downtown street a few days ago when he ran down a man on a motorbike….

Hun was tearing down the street at high speed when he hit the biker, witnesses reported, and his car ripped off an arm and a leg. The biker, Sam Sabo, was killed. Hun began to drive off, but running over the motorbike had shredded a tire. He had to pull over, so there he sat in his big black Cadillac Escalade SUV.

Now, listen to how the Phnom Penh Post newspaper described the events that followed.

“Numerous traffic police were seen avoiding the accident scene, but armed military police arrived. They removed the SUV’s license plates and comforted Hun Chea” while Sam Sabo lay bleeding to death in the street. A military policeman was overheard telling Hun: “‘Don’t worry. It wasn’t your mistake. It was the motorbike driver’s mistake.'” A few days later, Hun gave the dead man’s family $4,000 in hush money, the paper reported. Case closed.

The outrage builds from there, and Brinkley concludes, correctly, that Cambodia deserves better. Good for him.

So what confuses the hell out of me is this ‘news piece’ from VoA which claims, at the same time that Brinkley’s piece stares at me from my Google Newspage, that Cambodia is experiencing “increased transparency.” Yes, yes, the piece comes with a faded notice at the top indicating that it is not, in fact, news, but rather an “editorial reflecting the news of the US government,” but I’m unimpressed. The entire news service should come with that warning.