You may have read a recent post of mine in which I recalled a recent visit to see a friend in one of the two prisons in Siem Reap. My friend was arrested as part of a police swoop on illegal gambling (common amongst taxi drivers) and for 5 months my friend has waited for a court hearing. Savong arranged for a lawyer to represent our friend, and this week we heard the verdict: a 2 years sentence made longer than we hoped on account of a police claim that my friend had been using drugs. Less 5 months served, my hapless friend has 17 more months to serve.
I have committed to help him where I can – topping up his meagre prison rations mostly with some money each month. But my friend passed on another message: that when he gets out he wants a motorbike to help get him started once more.
That’s Cambodia in a nutshell. Your life is turning bad but it doesn’t matter: you have golden hopes for the future. That’s the eternal optimism of my friend, and it was the eternal optimism of his older Cambodian forebears who strove to survive the ugly Pol Pot years. It is raw human hope.
Post script 2019. My friend served more time but in December 2019 stepped out of prison and he has a job provided by Savong, as well as a second-hand motorbike to provide much needed independence and transport.
For an update to the story: click here.