A while ago I blogged about how frustrating it is not knowing how people die here in Cambodia. Something else that perplexes me is the way that a family death here turns to a demand for monetary compensation seemingly within moments of the death. It doesn’t matter whether it is a moto or car accident, a chemical spill, a machete murder, a rape or a drowning….the family members seem to be demanding monetary compensation before they have even shed a tear. OK OK that might be a bit harsh as I am sure they are distraught about a death in the family but what ever happened to “you cannot put a price on a life” ?.
I find it weird on both sides of the compensatory equation. Not only do I find the demands a bit strange ( I don’t want your money you arsehole – I want your head on a stick…) but the amounts of compensation that are paid are ludicrously small. Yesterday an innocent Air force Officer got shot in a bungled police raid in Phnom Penh. His family was given …wait for it……..$72 but the Deputy Police Commissioner was quick to point out that “this should not be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing”. A couple of weeks ago up north, many people died when a ferry sunk crossing a swollen river. The families instantly demanded $2000 per family member that died. I mean – where do they come up with these figures ? During the Prey Vihear dispute, a young Cambodian boy of 16 was caught by Thai soldiers illegally logging on the Thai side of the border. He was allegedly beaten,tortured and then burnt alive. His family retrieved the top half of his torso and are now….yes…demanding compensation-not jail time or a public hanging for the perpetrators-they want money.
I can only guess the demands are based on losing a family bread winner and the impact it has on the family unit as a whole but it still strikes me as odd ? Then again, I suppose when I think about it, back in Australia we compensate victims of violent crime and we can always sue for millions so what’s the difference.
I’ll shut up now.