Monsieur Le Directeur
C'est avec consternation que j'ai decouvert la photo de notre jeune compatriote,
Aurelia Lacroix, publiée dans l'édition du Phnom Penh Post du 16 novembre.
Je suis, comme de trés nombreux résidents de Phnom Penh, profondément
indigné par ce geste déplacé qui n'apporte rien a l'information,
choque la sensibilité de tous et ne fait qu'ajouter a la douleur de la famille
et des nombreux amis qu'avait su gagner ici cette jeune femme venue contribuer volontairement
au développement du Cambodge.
Un appel a témoins ou tout autre geste responsable eut été,
a mes yeux, plus utile et plus conforme a ce que l'on peut attendre d'une publication
Je souhaite donc, par ce courrier, manifester auprés de vous mon profond désaccord
et m'associer aux protestations de nombreux résidents étrangers comme
je l'ai fait dans la contribution que j'ai adressée hier au site internet
Expat Advisory Services.
Nul plus que nous n'est attaché au développement de la liberté
de la presse, au Cambodge comme ailleurs, mais je doute que cette liberté
puisse se gagner au détriment du respect de la dignité humaine.
En vous remerciant de bien vouloir publier cette réaction dans vos colonnes,
je vous prie de croire, Monsieur Ie Directeur, a l'expression de ma considération
Ambassade de France au Cambodge
Let me offer my sincere apologies to Ambassador Desmazieres, two other individuals
who emailed me directly and any other family members and friends of Aurelia Lacroix
who were angered by the Post's decision to run a photo of Ms. Lacroix after she was
dragged from a moto by a thief and subsequently struck by another vehicle in the
streets of Phnom Penh resulting in her untimely and tragic death.
It was not our intention to shock or offend anyone, nor has it been my intention
over the last 15-plus years to scandalize news, to hype reality for the sake of pushing
up paper sales or to sensationalize the often horrific train of events that this
paper has tried to report on and which have all too often filled the pages of the
Post in laborious detail.
On the contrary, the decision to run this photo was a reflection of a rising level
of concern we felt over the sharp increase in the number of handbag snatchers who
race through the streets of Phnom Penh with impunity grabbing loose bags carried
by passengers, many of whom have been Western women.
During previous weeks the Post received numerous reports of Westerners riding on
motos or tuk-tuks who were robbed and from passengers who also were dragged onto
the street while trying to save a bag. Some women said they thought tuk-tuks were
safer, but we heard many stories of women whose bags were snatched from tuk-tuks,
and some of these women were dragged onto the street. The mother of one of our reporters
was dragged from her tuk-tuk while holding onto a bag when she was visiting. A Post
editor had her bag snatched while riding on a moto a couple weeks ago. One woman
was dragged off her moto desperately hanging onto a bag because it contained her
flash drive, passport and important papers.
During the week of November 11 both private and government security analysts noted
off the record that there was a surge in attacks against Western women riding motos
as they were perceived as easy targets.
It was within this context that the difficult decision was made to run the photo
in question. It is with regret that I note that this decision has shifted the debate
from one focused on the proper response to serious crimes to one that deals with
journalism ethics. And for that I am willing to take full responsibility. It is clear
to me that a more delicate handling of the story in question could have served the
interests of informing our readers in a more effective manner of the risks involved
in moving about Phnom Penh.
Responses from readers on this issue and others, which have always been welcome,
will no doubt lend added caution to similar decisions the Post makes in the future.
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
I never wondered about the benefits of early breast feeding until I saw the movie
"Taste of Life" along with advertisements about the first breast feeding
sponsored by BBC in 2005.
My mother had passed along the conventional wisdom from old people that "the
first breast feeding" was unhealthy or dirty, and so her traditional mid-wife
had thrown it away, thereby depriving me of the benefits of colostrum. That's a commonly
held belief in many provinces today by the old people in her own village more than
200 km from where I was born in Battambang.
My 23-year-old friend from Prey Veng just recently raised her own doubts about the
benefits of "the first breast feeding." Colostrum is nature's first milk
- it's uniquely high in protein and anti-bodies needed by newborns. We asked my friend's
mother who said she still believes that the first breast feeding is bad for the baby.
So, my friend was shocked that she might have the same destiny as me. I now wonder
whether the reason I am shorter and have poorer teeth than my younger sister is related
to the lack of protein and antibodies received as a newborn. My younger sister who
was only 2.5 kilos at birth and had less nutrition was born in a modern hospital
where the doctor told my mother to give her the first breast feeding. In her childhood
she ate very selective food. She didn't like fish. I ate everything because my father
was wealthy during my childhood.
Please spend more time asking our villagers in different areas of the country about
"the first breast feeding" before making any conclusions about their understanding
of it. This will promote Cambodian public health and human resources.
In reading "Rice Wine Believes to Cure Many Ills," Nov 16-29, page 16,
some readers may be convinced enough to try to taste the local liqueur, better known
as white wine or Srar Sor in Khmer.
However, one should learn more facts and stories behind Srar Sor before agreeing
to a friend's challenge, "Bottoms Up!"
One sort of wine people should avoid is the so-called Srar Changkeus or Chopstick
To make more money, some roadside vendors in town are said to have produced Srar
Chankeus by putting a chopstick soaked with insecticide like Andrin into a big jar
of wine mixed with water. People can get very sick or die from drinking such wine.
Of course, some Sar Thnarm or Medicinal Wine may help cure illnesses. But, some healing
claims are too good to believe.
Many traditional healers claim that their wine can cure as many as 100 different
illnesses that you can name. Meanwhile, they also have specific brands with specific
effects, including Srar Kaun Kchei, Srar Bai Barn, Srar Samrarn Luk and Srar Reaksar
Srar Kaun Kchei or wine for a mother with a newly born baby is believed to help the
mother regain her energy. However, usually the much thirstier father often empties
the jar before the mother does.
Sar Bai Barn is believed to arouse a drinker's appetite. The problem is that the
drinker is always drunk before he is full.
Srar Samrarn Luk, like any other wine, can make you sleep well, while Srar Reaksar
Samphors helps people maintain their beauty. But, be careful. If you are beautiful,
you will remain beautiful. If you are ugly, you will remain ugly. So, ugly people
are advised to avoid this wine.
Apart from these well-known names, people have called rice wine with different funny
nicknames according to different side effects.
Some call it Srar Tapae or Talkative Wine as many drinkers talks endlessly when they
get drunk. Some name it Srar Karch or Cruel Wine as few people behave violently after
Another new nickname for rice wine is Srar Noyobai or Political Wine. This type of
wine can end up in heated and noisy arguments if friends have different political
beliefs. People have thus warned that: "If you drink, don't talk about politics;
If you talk about politics, don't drink!"
However, some friends can also manage to remind one another not to drink too much
or to protect themselves when they visit the red-light district. They would advise
each other not to forget the "3 S's," which stands for Srar, Srey, Sraom
(Wine, Girls, Condoms).
Last but not least, one should know that it's been Cambodians' habit to toast for
every glass of beer or wine to welcome or challenge friends. Sooner or later, you
will get very drunk before you can say, "Carry me home!"
Moeun Chhean Nariddh