This morning, at about 5.15 am, a murder was committed at 182 Street near to the
Capitol Hotel. Gunmen fired two shots at their victim before driving away on a motorcycle.
I did not see the incident but I heard the shots and like many others I went to see
what had happened. The victim was lying on the pavement fatally wounded; fatally
wounded and quite frankly without any hope of survival, but still alive. It is my
belief however that even the most remote chance to preserve life should be acted
upon - a belief that perhaps could be applied to Cambodia as a whole in these current
times. Yet I was dragged away from the body before I could make any attempt whatsoever
to keep the man alive and in the few seconds it took me to struggle free he had died.
However, no attempt was made to prevent the horde of Westerners who descended upon
the scene with their cameras and flashguns from taking photographs of the now dead
Although I am not resident in Cambodia I realize that such acts of violence are endemic,
but has murder become so commonplace that it is considered more acceptable to photograph
a dead body than to at least try to prevent the death? Am I the only person to find
the implications of this macabre scenario disturbing? One of the photographers, claiming
to be a legitimate representative of the press and complaining that the gunshots
had woken him up, found my outraged sense of morality misplaced: he was more concerned
with the recording of death than the preservation of life and could not, or would
not, appreciate that under the circumstances I considered his attitude sick.
I fully understand that the press have a duty to record such events and, being no
innocent, I know damn well that death makes a better story than death averted, but
how far have the limits of decency been pushed? Go back and apply the implications
of this one mindless incident and apply it to the whole of Cambodia again. Then question
the role of the press. Are they merely recording (from afar) a descent into madness
and death, disguising insensitivity with the notion of faithful reportage? Or do
they hope to achieve something more positive? If they really are concerned with the
latter perhaps in future they may express disapproval of the killing instead of the
early of murder. And maybe then steps can be taken to prevent death instead of simply
noting that it happened again.