Some Cambodians Lack a Sense of Maintenance… Instead They Destroy! 

  • Cambodianess
  • May 24, 2020 2:34 AM

Even though most nations are still affected by COVID-19, Samnang’s and Sothie’s interest in following developments about the pandemic has waned. For the past couple of months, COVID-19 has meant being confined at home without being able to walk freely outside.

But over the last two weeks, they have decided to go back to their usual meeting place: the Café. However, they still use caution; They do not sit down, do not touch the table or the chair, and keep a safe distance from one another. Today, the two companions were discussing some people who lack, they say, the right “attitude.”

Samnang: Sothie! I sincerely do not wish to speak ill of our own people. But, if I don’t speak, their attitude might not change. Well, my words are not addressed to all. I just want to mention some people with a “faulty attitude.”

Sothie: Please proceed. You have my full attention…

Samnang: I have repeatedly observed that some Cambodians lack the mindset of “maintenance,” the mindset of continuing to improve what have been built for them. Why is that? 

Sothie: What you say is right. Sometimes, to accommodate work requirements, people provide and equip buildings. They build them with bathrooms, facilities and equipment. As this is being used, equipment and facilities soon show wear and tear. Things get broken and there is no one to keep an eye on things. Some people even damage things just for fun. And the reason? They think that those buildings and equipment belong to everyone. They are the properties of all, state’s property. Every time I see this kind of attitude, it makes me feel outraged. However, there is nothing I can do. 

Samnang: What makes those people think and behave this way? 

Sothie: For some, what does not belong to them does not make them feel like protecting it. In the case of public property, being careful when using it is not common practice. Electricity is wasted through inefficient use like turning on air conditioners and lights when not needed. Water is not used wisely and rubbish are thrown all over the floor. Cars and other common properties are used and destroyed through carelessness without any misgivings by those people. They have very little feeling about saving or preserving any of this. 

Samnang: What people tend to lack is the mindset of sustainability? Or the mindset of improvement? 

Sothie: Some people have very little sense of what is called “common property.” They are more likely to destroy those things for common use when they no longer have an important rank within that institution. Because of this, they do not want to see their own former institution become more sustainable or developed. This is the idea rooted in some people’s mindset: They lack the idea of sustainability as well as the idea of improvement. 

Samnang: With these ideas at play, institutions will not move smoothly forward. Is that right, Sothie? 

Sothie: Absolutely! No matter if it is the government, NGOs or private institutions. If more people with this mindset keep on arriving, those institutions will not be able to remain or grow. There is a Khmer expression to describe those people: “People who put their legs in the water to make a moving boat go slower.” Samnang, being born as human beings, we must try to do good rather than bad. Sometimes, we should feel happy to see people around us develop. 

Samnang: You do not need to teach me this, Sothie. Since I was born, I do lots of good things. Furthermore, I even try to intervene and prevent others from getting their hands dirty by doing bad things. These are my principles. I do not wish to be born just to be burden for the Earth.


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