Psst. Want a Western University Degree Without Studying?

The time-honored practice of awarding university degrees for money is alive and well in Cambodia. After being turfed out of Malaysia for being neither Irish nor a university, the Internet-based Irish International University of Europa is showering Cambodian political leaders with degrees and establishing an “Asian campus” in Phnom Penh. The advent of the Internet…

Gimme Shelter

Cambodia has apparently granted Khmer citizenship to a wealthy American accused of being one of the world’s most notorious child abusers, a former San Francisco Bay Area stockbroker currently in a Mexican prison on charges of child sexual abuse, raising US Justice Department fears that the man will flee to Phnom Penh, according to government…

Spokesperson for Ghosts

When the Khmer Rouge Tribunal begins its formal hearings sometime next year, its Cambodian spokesman Reach Sambath hopes to put to rest his own memories. A respected journalist with a master’s degree from Columbia University and a career as a university lecturer and  reporter in Cambodia with Agence-France Presse behind him, Reach Sambath has suffered…

Why?

Again and again, in hurried and sometimes passionate voices, villagers rose to ask two prosecutors from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal the same questions: Why did Khmers kill Khmers? Why were they supported by the outside world? Why did the Khmer Rouge follow these policies of killing? Why did Khmers educated in France kill Khmers? Did…

Letter from Vietnam

Saigon takes a lot out of you. The beggars on every corner, people trying to sell you things you don’t need and would never travel thousands of kilometers to buy, which you buy anyway. Like those cone-shaped rice-straw hats that bad television comedies use to portray the archetypal ''Chinaman.'' I see sailors and European yoga…

1975: The Day I Left Saigon

I started looking for something familiar from the time we touched down at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tansonhut Airport on an evening flight from Danang. It had been nearly 31 years since I left on April 29, 1975, the day before Saigon fell. Nobody calls it Ho Chi Minh City, except for a few proper…

Stability Comes to the Killing Fields

For one of the world's poorest countries, Cambodia certainly seems to have a lot of Lexus SUVs these days. Bicycles, once rare, are becoming common, a sign that even the poorest are scraping together a few riel. Rickshaws, which less than a decade ago were as thick as flies around Phnom Penh's markets, are all…

Seeing Red

An old Chinese proverb warns: “When you set out to seek revenge, first dig two graves.” Revenge—and justice—have been two of the most difficult issues for Cambodia since 1979, when the Khmer Rouge were driven from power, ending four years of mayhem and murder in which virtually every Khmer born before 1975 became a perpetrator,…
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