Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Controlled looting




Controlled looting

Controlled looting

The Editor,

I do not wish to comment on the bulk of Michael Vickery's article ("A non-standard

view of the 'coup'", Phnom Penh Post Vol 6, No 17), but I take issue with his

penultimate paragraph concerning the looting.

At least some of it, perhaps most, was definitely to reward the troops. I personally

witnessed the stripping of the house of a senior Funcinpec official by armed, uniformed

men, who were taking everything down to the last t-shirt. The stolen items were carted

away by pick-up and cyclo. It was utterly controlled and all the more unpleasant

for so being; furthermore, the event took place virtually a stone's throw from the

residential compound of the CPP leadership behind Wat Botum. It was watched by a

crowd of silent and palpably resentful, poor civilians - and it seemed clear that

their resentment was not directed towards the absent house owner.

As for the rest of the looting, I am sure many ordinary Cambodians would be offended

at being characterized as "indecently and pretentiously rich". The situation

of the victims was well described at the time by a reporter for the French language

radio station RFI, who said, approximately (I'm quoting from memory): "These

were not the rich, but the middle classes, the petits fonctionnaires, who had saved

from their small incomes, dollar by dollar, to buy their stereo, television or moto..."

If possession of such items is Michael Vickery's indicator of indecent and pretentious

wealth, then I suggest it's high time he joins the 20th Century before the rest of

us, impoverished Cambodians included, join the 21st.

Just one more comment on the article. If the 1980s are ancient history for journalists,

how about Stalin's purges and Mao's Great Leap Forward for a historian? I should

have thought they could reasonably be described as "regimes making war on their

own people", both a fair time before 1991.

- Michael Bolton, Phnom Penh.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia