Photo: Baci ceremony, Luanag Prabang.

Culture and politics forum

Do the neo-colonists change a country for the worse

Posted by sayadian on 7/10/2012 at 03:22

I've noticed that many barang run businesses in Cambodia have brought higher prices and worse of all their European/N.American attitudes.
For example a Khmer business thinks nothing of a food seller peddling his/her wares in their restaurant, similarly they are happy for you to use their bathroom without buying anything.Now I see signs in Sihanoukville prohibiting the latter and have seen vendors 'thrown' out of Western run businesses.
The locals are happy for you to sit all day nursing one drink.Will it soon be mandatory to consume or get out?
Changing local custom, whether it be bad or good can't be right, can it?

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Posted by caseyprich on 7/10/2012 at 03:56

Well, if I want local food and atmosphere in somewhere like Thailand, Vietnam or China I go to the local spots. If I want a burger and to be free of hawkers I go to a foreign run place, simple as that.

Actually, when I saw your subject line I thought this was more about all the Chinese casions opening around Da Nang and the damn building projects developed and run by Yunnan firms in Laos. Many are saying that neo-colonialism is a word that applies to Chinese movements in Africa and Southeast Asia.

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Posted by sayadian on 7/10/2012 at 06:49

See your point.The Chinese seemed to have got more than a foothold in S.E.Asia.
The Chinese are taking over on a far wider scale than the Barang but I would take a guess they haven't impinged on local customs so much.
I knew a girl working in the office of a Chinese clothing company in Phnom Penh and as Khmer do she'd just take days off when she felt like it.She kept her job surprisingly.
p.s did you mean Dam when you said damn :-)

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Posted by caseyprich on 7/10/2012 at 08:08

Freudian slip.

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Posted by MADMAC on 7/10/2012 at 22:59

"Changing local custom, whether it be bad or good can't be right, can it?"

Sure it can. Local doesn't mean good. In Saudi Arabia one of their "local customs" is to stone witches to death. Not a local custom I would particularly respect. In Northern Thailand for a long time one of the local customs was to sell their young daughters into forced prostitution. Sometimes external influence is a healthy thing.

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Posted by caseyprich on 8/10/2012 at 00:17

Ol' Madmac getting all John Rawls on us again.

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Posted by sayadian on 8/10/2012 at 03:06

Madmac
'for a long time one of the local customs was to sell their young daughters into forced prostitution.'
So have they stopped doing it?
At one time every Thai town had these girls. It was estimated in 1985 that Haadyai had over 2000 of them servicing Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese! These guys love the white skin.
They might have been forced but forced by loyalty to the family. Much as Isan girls spread around Thailand after experiencing U.S. 'hospitality' in Udon etc.
Much as the Russian girls do now.
What external influence ended this practice (of selling girls from Chang Rai) ?
I'm curious. Was it NGO led or just the plentiful supply of young girls from Burma?
Are you telling me Thais/Chinese don't screw young girls anymore?


Saudi Arabia
I was told by an official of the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh (with a straight face) that stonings were no longer the barbaric punishment of the past.
'Now we just get a JCB to drop a heap of boulders on their heads.' he said.

Anyway, the local custom I referred to is benign and hospitable if a little crazy. (letting people in your restaurant to sell food!)

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Posted by neosho on 8/10/2012 at 04:10

Hmmm. You opened a big can of worms with this one Sayadian. Does it go all the way to globalization as a whole? Even my presence here in the village leaves a mark whether I mean for it to or not. I'm watching my villagers farm methods change the same as they did it america only on a much faster pace. Along with that is coming the changes in the way they live. The traditions will change slower but they will eventually.

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Posted by sayadian on 8/10/2012 at 04:34

I had family in a village in Amphoe Muang near Ubon but as young people they got out to go seek work in Bangkok.It seems to me from what I'm told the changes are:

-The average age of a villager has risen because young people no longer want to live in a village
-John Deere does the back breaking work now and all the water buffaloes have gone to Laos.
-They have an Old Age Pension
-A tour bus goes through the village (when I was there you you had to wake the guy with the motorbike to take you to the main road to catch the bus)
Air-conditioned, breeze block houses (breaks my heart that they knocked down the teak house but there was a ghost!)
Satellite TV ( I remember everyone sitting in the dirt outside the headman's house watching one black and white set.)

So if your referring to village life it's got a whole lot better and that's the opinion of the people who live there and they are the only ones that count.

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/10/2012 at 06:06

There is no doubt in Issan village life has gotten WAY better in every measurable. And this is due directly to globalization. Not even debateable. My wife's village, 20 years ago, had no public water, no public power, no hard ball roads, no internet, no telephones, limited non-local food items, no public health care... Now they have all of these things and more.

As for selling daughters - that's way down sayadian, but not over. And young women - 14, 15, 16 -yeah, they're still out there doing it even when not sold into it. I'm just saying there's been improvement in that area, and much of that improvement is due to foreign influnce.

As for your restaraunt example, that would be a negative impacter.

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Posted by sayadian on 8/10/2012 at 07:34

'much of that improvement is due to foreign influnce.'
Re: Selling young girls.
So are your saying people naturally began to see that their behaviour was abhorrent or did the government stop it or did the NGO's kick up enough fuss to have it stopped.
I've come across this taste for young girls in Cambodia too. I realise it's not so prevalent in Thailand anymore.For one thing they've knocked all the chicken farms down, something Cambodia has also started doing. I've got no problem with the girls working but they should at least be an appropriate age.

Reluctantly, I've agreed to visit the village in January. I'm a city person and I don't know if I can get into that Isan thing of sleeping-eating-sleeping-eating but I'll see.

As far as hawking food in someone else's restaurant I have never seen it done outside Cambodia. It's a peculiar phenomena. Like 6 year old girls selling flowers in the bars at 2 a.m.

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/10/2012 at 08:19

"So are your saying people naturally began to see that their behaviour was abhorrent or did the government stop it or did the NGO's kick up enough fuss to have it stopped."

NGOs, media, etc. Yes. They put pressure on everyone to curtail this particular trend.

"I've got no problem with the girls working but they should at least be an appropriate age."

That and they should be making a choice. Maybe a hard choice, but still a choice. Not compelled at the point of a gun or knife.

"I'm a city person and I don't know if I can get into that Isan thing of sleeping-eating-sleeping-eating but I'll see."

I have to have a project to do - or I get bored.

"As far as hawking food in someone else's restaurant I have never seen it done outside Cambodia."

Mukdahan. They do it here too. It's harmless.

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Posted by sayadian on 8/10/2012 at 10:18

I can see I'm slowly getting sucked into a discussion on prostitution here-groan!
But I have to reply
'Not compelled at the point of a gun or knife.'
I've yet to meet a girl who was compelled that way.
Tricked ,yes but even then I have my doubts.If a girl in Russia gets offered humongeous amounts of money just to wait table in China surely she'd have to be stupid if she believed what she was told.
As far as the girls from up North, I met many of them when I was based in Butterworth which is/was 4 hours from Haadyai.
Again I never met any who were compelled by anything other than family duty.
I never saw any girl mistreated excepting the behaviour of Australian soldiers. That didn't last as the girls refused to go with them and were never coerced.
I think the average time they spent down there was a year and then they'd go home, probably get married and settle down.There are a lot of women up there who worked 'washing clothes' as they like to say euphemistically.

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/10/2012 at 10:43

"I've yet to meet a girl who was compelled that way."

Neither have I. But I'm sure it happens.

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Posted by sayadian on 9/10/2012 at 05:41

I'm sure it does in Washington D.C. and East L.A. but it's not a S.E. Asian way.

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/10/2012 at 14:09

Well I don't know that it happens here, but I suspect it does.

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