The man with guesthouse troubles ("Sound and fury in Sihanoukville" Post
September 24) seems to accept his own large part in them. Good to see! But the story
might give new-to-Cambodia visitors a dim view of both local people and resident
My biggest fear is that mistrust of Khmers may be bolstered. In my eleven visits
here they have been overwhelmingly respectful and trustworthy. What it takes is for
us barangs to be respectful and trustworthy, managing a huge 'trust' we hold - as
a sector with such power, money, world knowledge, and more - to care for and respect
Khmer people, culture, traditions and initiative. Many barangs do show that respect
and forge deep, lasting ties with Khmer friends. I hope those stories make the news,
This leads to the "fundamental threat" letter, which made telling points.
In this shattered country, a strong element (evangelical religious conversion) that
may further disrupt families and communities might do more harm than good.
Raised in a Christian culture and home, I share with millions - of Christian as well
as other faiths - a belief in many paths to enlightenment. Five recent days visiting
Chhung Leap Temple, near Ta Khmau, taught me much about the glory of Buddhism. I
felt the thrilling power of ancient ceremonies, strong community, and people enriched
by their faith. If 600 years of Christian-to-Christian (Catholic-Protestant) war
in Northern Ireland did not show us, the agonies of today's Muslims - often blamed
as a group for world woes despite Islam's pure core - should teach us now! It is
not which faith we follow that matters, but whether we use that faith to unite or
divide, to build or destroy.
Khmer religious tradition, in a climate of global awareness and welcomed diversity,
needs to be strengthened following its terrible abuse at Khmer Rouge hands. In this
and other ways, Khmers and barangs can and should join together to rebuild this great
country and culture.
Arne Sahlen (a Canadian) - Phnom Penh