“There is no doubt that Cam­bo­dia’s cap­i­tal is a feast for the senses – but visit at the wrong time and there might be one sense that over­whelms the rest”

Southeast Asia Globe - - Editorial - Dene Mullen, edi­tor in chief Send your com­ments to d.mullen@globe­me­di­aa­sia.com

There has rarely been a bet­ter time to visit Phnom Penh. The city finds it­self at a fas­ci­nat­ing junc­ture, where de­vel­op­ment has taken enough of a hold to pro­vide visi­tors with any of the sleek com­forts of a 21st cen­tury cap­i­tal, but there re­mains more than enough mag­i­cal may­hem to ren­der even sea­soned trav­ellers wide-eyed.

When in the city, ex­pect to sip a per­fectly crafted martini while watch­ing a fam­ily of six drive past perched on one moto; to as­sault a break­fast buf­fet loaded with smoked salmon and fine French cheese be­fore spend­ing the af­ter­noon strolling through back­streets where bare­foot chil­dren share the right of way with groups of strut­ting chick­ens. There is no doubt that Cam­bo­dia’s cap­i­tal is a feast for the senses – but visit at the wrong time and there might be one sense that over­whelms the rest.

It is an es­tab­lished, and un­miss­able, fact that Phnom Penh’s garbage col­lec­tion ser­vices are rather sub­par. Piles of rub­bish fes­ter here and there, and while the sit­u­a­tion is not ex­treme enough to over­shadow the other won­ders on of­fer, it might, quite lit­er­ally, leave a bad taste in the mouth. The pri­vate com­pany long charged with fail­ing to keep the city’s streets clean, Cin­tri, is al­most uni­ver­sally mocked and re­viled. This month, we looked into the rea­sons be­hind the Cam­bo­dian cap­i­tal’s trash troves, where we found ex­hausted work­ers, se­cre­tive fi­nances and, thank­fully, a few glim­mers of hope (page 42).

Else­where in this is­sue, we shift our gaze to In­done­sia to ex­am­ine whether Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo’s re­cent de­ci­sion to dis­band a rad­i­cal (though peace­ful) Mus­lim group is a much­needed show of strength or a force­ful mis­step that could un­der­mine his demo­cratic cre­den­tials (page 50). We also step in­side the fas­ci­nat­ing Malaysia De­sign Ar­chive to chart the coun­try’s aes­thetic his­tory (page 72), be­fore head­ing to sta­di­ums in Myan­mar and Sin­ga­pore armed with a cal­cu­la­tor and spread­sheets as we com­pare the busi­ness mod­els of One Cham­pi­onship and Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship, the two mixed mar­tial arts or­gan­i­sa­tions tak­ing the re­gion by storm (page 64).

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