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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stop the rot

Stop the rot

The Post seemed to get overexcited by the anticorruption razz-matazz held a few weeks

ago. It edited and published in the latest edition the Prime Minister's how-it-can-be-done

speech that was so faultless that it could easily cure any insomniac's problem. The

Post screamed over the rooftop with a double-page spread alerting readers to the

out-of-control corruption and appealed all to join in the fight.

Relax. It is unlikely that the Post would get, in the words of the Gecko, the "Global

Witness" treatment.

As an expat, the Post would be forgiven for an apparent lack of an appreciation of

the local thinking on corruption. The Khmer equivalent to corruption is puok rolouy,

which refers to something rotting and giving off a foul smell. This explains why

many people, including some expats, prefer to breathe through their mouth when coming

across those who are "rotten."

Nevertheless, the local thinking is this: anything that rots will eventually fall

off by itself. No action is necessary; time will fix it. Cambodians have been through

the process so many times that they now feel at ease and wait in pain for the next


There may be a slight side effect, however. Every time the rotten go, the whole country

turns upside down. But, again, the people are used to it, and their ability to "accommodate"

and suffer enduringly is second to none.

Ung Bun-Ang - Senator, Sam Rainsy Party



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