There has been quite a bit of discussion around whether it is appropriate to speculate about whether Donald Trump has a mental illness. The rhetoric and armchair diagnosis of Trump is already happening and it’s important to look at the arguments for why people are doing that and perhaps more importantly whether people should. I […]
The national elections are bearing down on us. The closer we get, the more frequent and raucous the political campaigning becomes. Where the commune elections saw hardly any crowds of campaigners or promotional flags, with only a propaganda video here or there, the election for the leader of Cambodia has seemingly galvanized most everybody. You can’t turn around without seeing a Funcinpec poster or a CPP TV spot or a CNRP radio advert. Even the little-known LDP has its supporters out in force.
Friends, co-workers, and random people that I ask about the frenzy tell me that I didn’t see this during the commune elections because “they are unimportant”. Nobody cares about those positions, they explain to me; what really matters is who leads the country. “Who leads the country, leads all,” one young man told me. Perhaps so, but it seems like an awful small, not to mention imbalanced, basket to put all of one’s eggs in.
It seems a hopelessly rigged fight; the CPP is infamous for bribing, threatening, changing voter lists, and altering ballots to get their desired ends. Yet CNRP supporters seem more numerous by the day. Even supposed CPP “supporters” are often paid to join rallies, which explains their lack of enthusiasm when compared to CNRP rallies, to a degree.
Nevertheless, people seem to be pinning their hopes with ever-increasing fervor on the
Cambodian National Rescue Party and it’s just-arrived leader, Sam Rainsy. Rainsy got in yesterday morning (video here). My classes were half-empty, but the streets were full of excited people on motorbikes, in the backs of trucks, and in tuk tuks, shouting “lak prambi! Lak prambi!” Number seven! Number seven! Seven is CNRP’s number on the ballot. (You might be thinking, how is it that the main opposition party is so far down on the list? Good question, I don’t know how they structure the ballot; the CPP is number 4, if you’re curious.)
Rainsy has been back less than two days, and someone’s already shot at CNRP headquarters— though he wasn’t even there and no one was injured, fortunately. People are suggesting it was an intimidation tactic by CPP supporters.
Others have a different theory. The whole thing, claims one young Phnom Penher, is a sham. Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen are actually friends. Without an opposition party, the country would be much less stable; with no hope for the people, Hun Sen would have much more of a threat to his power on his hands.
It’s possible that Hun Sen will win outright. Plenty of people who hate the man still vote for him, because they fear him. They believe him when he says that if CPP loses, “Khmer Rouge shall return”. The specter of Khmer Rouge is never far and never forgotten. While most of Hun Sen’s ties from the murderous Democratic Kampuchea have magically disappeared, at least from the public eye, the threat of Khmer Krahom’s imminent return is fresh in the minds of any Cambodian adult over the age of 25. People will vote for him out of fear.
I am getting out of dodge for the weekend of the election (which takes place on Sunday the 28th), just to be on the safe side. While it would be interesting to see how Phnom Penh expresses its disappointment or elation, I think it probably would be safer to watch it on TV…just in case.
The Cambodia Daily (7.12.12) reports that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and rights group Licadho both noted that reports of domestic violence were down in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year, but for different reasons. Licadho says that reporting has actually decreased, versus incidents of violence. MOWA, on the other hand, believes that laws enacted to end violence against women have effectively reduced such instances. This article appeared in the same issue with articles titled “Thief Sentenced to Life for Brutal Murder of Woman” and “Woman Found Dead; Heart, Stomach Cut Out”. Hmm…
The police beat the sh*t out of a key representative of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions during a peaceful rally in Phnom Penh yesterday. And you thought union-busting in the States was bad!
This, at the same time that some foreign companies have agreed to raise wages for garment workers after months of striking.
An excellent post from Sociological Images demonstrating common forms of sexual objectification. Here is another on objectification and yet another about the sexualization of violence (which I should note is rather disturbing, for those of you with sensitive dispositions).
That so many of us can glance over such images due not so much to our desensitization of violence but largely because of the normalization of hypersexualization (mainly of women) makes me want to douse myself with a bucket of ice water. It’s the feeling that I’ve been sleeping for most of my life, presented with cultural icons and imagery which I accepted without question as normal, tolerable, even mundane. That it has taken me this long to recognize this hostile cultural environment for what it is– one that simultaneously shames me for not wearing a bra whilst demanding that I shave my legs and grow out my hair, subtly urging me to play the tart but never, ever discuss my sexuality or sex life– makes me realize how much farther I have to go.
Germany, wow, progressive. Letting kids make decisions about their bodies after they have come of age, rather than letting adults have life-changing control over issues that have the potential to negatively impact health and sexuality? Circumcision isn’t a dire necessity like the polio vaccine, after all. Some decisions should not be left to parents. Like arranged marriages.
Also: voice your opinion on the next UN Conference on Women! What issues do you want to see discussed?