Category Archives: Current Affairs

Small change

Cambodia is a land that got lost in time. A dictator came along and declared Year Zero and tried to recalibrate the society into an agrarian socialist utopia. The ‘new people’, teachers, artists and intellectuals were purged and tortured in the genocide that followed. After years of bombing from the Americans and bitter civil war Cambodia decided to inflict even more lasting damage upon itself. The aftermath is apparent but I feel powerless to help because I’m not sure what I can do. 

Cities were deserted and the people were returned to the land. Those that weren’t tortured faced starvation or hard labour and in two years about a quarter of the population were dead. Mass graves, horror and destruction were left as the Khmer Rouge were pushed back from the capital by the advancing Vietnamese liberators. 

Now Cambodia faces new challenges. A prime minister who has been in power for decades and whose role in the Khmer Rouge is still vague, rules a country that is lurching into the twenty first century. Rapid urbanisation, modernisation and industrialisation carry on seemingly unregulated. Any attempts to preserve habitats and cultures are hindered by corruption at all levels. In Cambodia there are many complex and conflicting needs which are failing to be met. Sadly many of Cambodia’s population are as poor now as they ever were. 

One the legacies of this newly democratic kingdom is waste. You see it everywhere. In a country with so many issues is it a liberal European concern that Cambodia is choking to death on plastic. Perhaps it is, but I am as liberal and European as they come.  Plastic Free Cambodia launches today and I will do my bit. This country could be a jewel in Asia’s crown with its diverse habitats and amazing ecosystems. Mighty lakes and rivers dominate the country but, if they end up polluted and choking, Cambodia could find its still largely agricultural population falling victim once again to a leadership whose primary concern is not the welfare of its people. 

While I am here, just a visitor passing through, I can ensure I inflict as little damage as possible. I can’t stop illegal logging or palm oil plantations but I can say no thank you when I’m offered a plastic bag. 

Choose A Phobia


So a man decided to attack Parliament in London. The man was a Muslim. This was a terror attack. The logic is very simple. However this simplistic logic can be quite dangerous. There are extra police on the streets of Britain. Sadly what is feared most now is not another attack on the highly protected mother of all parliaments, but an attack on ordinary Muslims living in the U.K.. Why would anyone do that? Islamophobia apparently, but surely its just good old fashioned stupidity served with a dash of post-imperial racism. A Muslim man attacked Parliament so let’s should attack someone with the same religion. Or even more ridiculous let’s expect someone of that religion to explain the motivation behind the attack and a solution to ISIS and Syria while they are at it.
I know what fills me with terror and it’s not terrorists. I see people, scared people, not terribly intelligent people, who are filling themselves with hate and anger. This vitriol is then hurled indisciminately at people who are in some sense, other. It could be Muslims, gays, the disabled, blacks, Europeans, Asians or intellectuals. There are a lot of people in the world to hate and ironically, the narrower the mind, the broader the hate spectrum. We need a war on that kind of terror. We need to educate the ignorant and reduce the threat of prejudice. So let’s choose a phobia and start to gently wipe the fear from the minds the scared people.