Cambodia is a fascinating country. Many who visit fall in love with the luscious green rice fields, the smiles of the local people and the relatively low cost of living. However, there is a sinister side. Take the time to learn more about the political and social issues that Cambodians face every day, but also be inspired by their resilience.
Years after Cambodia’s bloody civil war, hopes for democracy have faded. In this 2018 Four Corners investigation, reporter Sophie McNeill confronts the man whose political opponents have been imprisoned and assassinated in mysterious circumstances.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power for 31 years and his family is reaping the benefits. Experts estimate the family’s combined wealth is between US$500 million and US$1 billion – an unimaginable fortune for the 40 per cent of Cambodians who live in poverty. 101 East investigates how those who dared to criticise the government have ended up in jail or in exile or, worse still, paying with their lives.
101 East travels to Cambodia, a country representing some of the highest levels of rape in the region, to speak with men themselves about why they commit these crimes and to find out if the perpetrators can trigger new ideas for prevention.
This documentary puts the spotlight on alleged criminal activities carried out by members of Cambodia’s ruling elite in Australia. As human rights activists warn that Cambodia is teetering on the edge of total dictatorship, this 101 East investigation into alleged corruption among the country’ ruling elite comes at a critical time in the country’s history, the 2018 election.
With 0.2 doctors for every 1,000 people, Cambodia has one of the world’s lowest ratios, forcing many to rely on unlicensed physicians. But when a village suffered a widespread HIV outbreak after contaminated needles were used on patients, the government banned all unlicensed medics. 101 East uncovers Cambodia’s failed healthcare system and its reliance on doctors with no licence to heal.
Many of today’s holidaymakers to Cambodia want to do more than sightseeing, with a growing number volunteering their time, energy and skills. From schools to orphanages, they hope their efforts will have a positive impact on the country. Critics claim that such good intentions are having a negative impact, with some orphanages creating a booming business trading on guilt. There are reports of orphanages using children with parents to pose as orphans, of wealthy tourists depriving local workers from getting much-needed jobs, and of orphans forming emotional attachments to volunteers and facing more trauma when they leave. 101 East asks if volunteer tourism does more harm than good for the people of Cambodia.
Voluntourism, the intersection of volunteering and tourism, is often criticised as doing more harm than good to local communities. In this documentary, volunteers are asked why they decided to volunteer, how their experience is going and if they think they are having an impact on local communities.
Increasing numbers of tourists including well-intentioned volunteers keen to help war-torn Cambodia are volunteering in the country’s orphanages. Volumes of research around the world have shown that orphanage care is associated with long-term psychological concerns.
In the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, most garment workers are women. When a seamstress gets pregnant, she can expect to be fired. There is a law that protects workers’ rights, although few are aware of it. This is why seamstresses try to hide their pregnancies from their employers, continuing to do a physically demanding job and putting their babies’ health at risk.