Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Dogs That Bark at Elephants ....

Its not so much politics in Cambodia but rather power. Corruption is systemic and blatant ... so blatant there’s almost an honesty to it.  Some said that at least it was obvious rather than in the western world where its duplicitous and subtle. Another theory I got was if there were a change of government there would be even more because those in power now are already very wealthy.  Anyone new would have to build up wealth through yet more corruption.  
There is a stability provided by the current administration, but sights like the many brand new Range Rovers driving through Phnom Penh, suggest there are hundreds wealthy as well as millions poor.  This wealth is almost certainly not gleaned from moral business practice, built on compassion for their fellow man.  A bloke down the pub (always the best sources) told me half the aid coming into the country is “lost” but could probably be found again in the shape of the flash cars driving around its capital city. These drivers scare me.  They feel untouchable.  One person explained that there is a saying that the people are dogs and the ruling class, elephants.  Dogs might be able to bark at elephants but little else.  Elephants are untouchable, undefeatable, unstoppable. Thoughts of political improvement for its population are burdened by a hopelessness that seems so absolute and so conspicuous.
You consider temporarily that maybe its not so bad ... in the west we seem so self righteous that our way is the best way ... maybe democracy is over-rated ... maybe there is freedom in an absence of regulation.  Then you realise that there is no protection of people.  There are few rights.  The Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia that recently hit the headlines where 1 million hectares of land has been taken over by corporate firms is an example.  Many who “own” land, don’t.  The legal rights for land ownership are blurred in most instances.  It seems the small farmer in these cases get money for their farms but it is a surreal compulsory purchase - money or AK-47 - that’s the choice.
Economic Land Concessions represent the sound of ideologies clashing.  Cambodia can’t move on agriculturally without efficiencies in scale and technical expertise .... corporate farming is a quick fix ... the capitalist answer.  But individual people should have rights to what they have ... they should be respected and cherished not bullied and stolen from ... profit of the few can’t in anyway excuse the immediate suffering of the many.  There is a sadness and an intense injustice to it all. 
In a land where over 70% of the population have an income of $2 a day or less whilst the ruling class drive around in £75,000 lumps of metal, concealed by blacked out windows ... you start thinking there must be a better alternative species to belong to than human beings. 

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