They are digging trenches all around Phnom Penh.
So exciting, I know. For kicks I asked some of the workers digging where they were from; they were from various provinces, like Prey Veng, and had been hired to dig trenches for new drainage piping for $1.50 per meter. Sounds like a good deal until you see the trench is waist-deep and they have to use pick-axes to break up the sidewalk first.
I was watching the people standing around watching the people digging when it struck me: all the watchers were lighter-skinned Phnom Penhers, many of Chinese decent, while all the diggers were darker-skinned (working in the sun, hello?) Khmer villagers. And then it struck me how Phnom Penh may be the capital of “srok Khmer”, the land of the Khmers, but it really belongs, literally and figuratively, to everyone but. Chinese and Vietnamese people own much of the land and homes; Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean people own, operate, and profit from many of the major businesses and industries (including communications and securities companies, import/exporters, and textiles and clothing factories).
It’s difficult to ignore how racialized class is in this country.
Anyway, the PM said something funny on TV this week: he asked restaurants not to publicly roast cows on spits in front of their establishments. (Evidently it’s still okay to spit-roast chickens and pigs.) His logic was partly that it’s not hygienic, which I can see where he’s coming from on that, I suppose. But also that it is “against Buddhist principle” to openly display “cruelty” to animals by spit roasting them.
Nevermind that the animals are long dead before they get on the spit. Or that it’s still “anti-Buddhist” to spit-roast behind close doors. Or to kill and eat animals at all…? Haha.