We are guests in this country

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LTO
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We are guests in this country

Post by LTO » Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:32 pm

“We are guests in this country.”

I hear this a lot.

No we aren’t. We (foreign travelers, tourists, expats) are, at best, paying customers.

Guests to my home are invited in, offered a cold drink, asked to join the family for meals, and if they need to stay over, the guest is provided with a place to sleep, sometimes one of the family even giving up their room to accommodate the guest. So long a person is a guest in my home, he will be treated courteously (and the same is expected in return) and certainly won’t have to pay for anything. Guests do not have to pay to enter my house (let alone get scammed on the price), or pay for their drinks or meals or room, or buy tickets to see my book collection or anything here. In fact, if a guest tries to pay me I would certainly refuse and may even feel a bit insulted. If they had to do stuff like pay to enter my house they would be customers, not guests. Customers pay for their drinks and meals and their bed, and may even have to pay a cover charge to get in. And though I would expect customers to behave properly in my business lest I kick them out (or worse), there is no expectation that they will be overly courteous and certainly none that they won’t complain or that I might have to improve my business in response to those complaints. Foreigners here legally are not guests in this country. If there is an analogy to be made, they are paying customers who have no particular obligation to kowtow to the owner or tiptoe around the staff (except perhaps for fear of the consequences,) and are entitled to expect a certain amount of rights and return for their payments. Some here are even more than paying customers, they have a degree of vested interest and not only have the right to stomp around a bit and point out faults and try to make changes, but perhaps even an obligation.
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EdinWigan
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by EdinWigan » Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:42 pm

LTO wrote:“We are guests in this country.”

I hear this a lot.

No we aren’t. We (foreign travelers, tourists, expats) are, at best, paying customers.

Guests to my home are invited in, offered a cold drink, asked to join the family for meals, and if they need to stay over, the guest is provided with a place to sleep, sometimes one of the family even giving up their room to accommodate the guest. So long a person is a guest in my home, he will be treated courteously (and the same is expected in return) and certainly won’t have to pay for anything. Guests do not have to pay to enter my house (let alone get scammed on the price), or pay for their drinks or meals or room, or buy tickets to see my book collection or anything here. In fact, if a guest tries to pay me I would certainly refuse and may even feel a bit insulted. If they had to do stuff like pay to enter my house they would be customers, not guests. Customers pay for their drinks and meals and their bed, and may even have to pay a cover charge to get in. And though I would expect customers to behave properly in my business lest I kick them out (or worse), there is no expectation that they will be overly courteous and certainly none that they won’t complain or that I might have to improve my business in response to those complaints. Foreigners here legally are not guests in this country. If there is an analogy to be made, they are paying customers who have no particular obligation to kowtow to the owner or tiptoe around the staff (except perhaps for fear of the consequences,) and are entitled to expect a certain amount of rights and return for their payments. Some here are even more than paying customers, they have a degree of vested interest and not only have the right to stomp around a bit and point out faults and try to make changes, but perhaps even an obligation.
A very interesting and accurate perspective but I would add a certain caveat about cultural sensitivity is missing.
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by Joon » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:04 pm

As a Cambodian, I don't consider foreign expats, residents and businesspeople as "guests." I think they are part of the society and as such they have certain rights and certain duties. They have the freedom to complaint, to love, to describe, to analyze, to study, etc. everything Cambodia.

Where the limitation of foreigners in Cambodia lies, imho, is that no matter how long they have lived here, know the country and its people, have family bonds with Cambodians, they are not part of the Nation (unless they apply for Khmer citizenship).
So as such, I consider that it would be out of place for foreigners to claim that they know what is best for this country and to proselytize about what the destiny of this Nation should be.

As a Cambodian though, I welcome views, opinions, ideas, analysis by foreigners that can help Cambodians to make informed decisions.

But I am well aware that I am part of a very small minority of Cambodians.

Just my two cents.
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by EdinWigan » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:28 pm

Joon wrote:As a Cambodian, I don't consider foreign expats, residents and businesspeople as "guests." I think they are part of the society and as such they have certain rights and certain duties. They have the freedom to complaint, to love, to describe, to analyze, to study, etc. everything Cambodia.

Where the limitation of foreigners in Cambodia lies, imho, is that no matter how long they have lived here, know the country and its people, have family bonds with Cambodians, they are not part of the Nation (unless they apply for Khmer citizenship).
So as such, I consider that it would be out of place for foreigners to claim that they know what is best for this country and to proselytize about what the destiny of this Nation should be.

As a Cambodian though, I welcome views, opinions, ideas, analysis by foreigners that can help Cambodians to make informed decisions.

But I am well aware that I am part of a very small minority of Cambodians.

Just my two cents.
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StroppyChops
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by StroppyChops » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:28 pm

^ nicely stated in both posts, Joon.
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by Soi Dog » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:30 pm

The "if you don't like it here, get the fuck out" mentality has some validity. Barangs chose to stay in Cambodia. Most locals have no choice but to stay put, and can be greatly and sometimes negatively affected by such political discourse and the events they may lead to, without the option of running away if events turn ugly. Reminds me of the handful of fuckwit farangs stirring the shit at red shirt rallies in Bangkok, making impassioned speeches, calling for the overthrow of the "Thai ruling class". When the shit hit the fan, and they got arrested with the thousands of Thais there after violent clashes, the weepy farangs pleaded with their embassy and the foreign media to help get them out. And get out they did. The thousands of Thais, of course, stayed in jail.
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LTO
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by LTO » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:40 pm

Joon wrote:As a Cambodian, I don't consider foreign expats, residents and businesspeople as "guests." I think they are part of the society and as such they have certain rights and certain duties. They have the freedom to complaint, to love, to describe, to analyze, to study, etc. everything Cambodia.

Where the limitation of foreigners in Cambodia lies, imho, is that no matter how long they have lived here, know the country and its people, have family bonds with Cambodians, they are not part of the Nation (unless they apply for Khmer citizenship).

So as such, I consider that it would be out of place for foreigners to claim that they know what is best for this country and to proselytize about what the destiny of this Nation should be.
I mostly agree*. I wrote about this before, took a similar position, and was accused of being a CPP supporter for it.

*Couple of small afterthoughts:

Even if the foreigner applies for and receives Cambodian citizenship, he will still always be an outsider (unless he's Chinese), and considered and treated as such by the local population. The best that a white can hope for in Khmer society, even with a Cambodian passport, is to be considered a respectable, understanding, well-integrated foreigner...almost Chinese. Part of surviving as an expat is understanding and accepting that.

And, as has been pointed out to me before, there is some reasonable question about who is more 'part of the Nation', the foreigner who's lived here for years, has family/business investment and the intention to stay or the Khmer who may never have been here and has no intention of living here.)
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by Rama » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:42 pm

I'm a long term resident here.
I came first as a backpacker in 1998 for a few months and then after University came as a volunteer in 2002. There and then I met my Cambodian 'partner' and I have lived here ever since.
I grew up in Thailand at a large international school. I've spent more than 2/3 of my life in South East Asia.
I'm British by passport, but I have no attachments to England . No home there, and no immediate family either and due to various reasons I'll never return to live in England and honestly I've got no desire to ever go back even for a holiday. My childhood memories are mainly of Thailand and my life and future is in Cambodia. I'd like to try for citizenship here when my Khmer is fluent. I hope to stay here forever.
My son is Cambodian born and has 2 passports. My wife is Cambodian (Sot) I'm not Cambodian, I'm not Thai but I've got a British passport.
I'm a third culture kid. I have no sense of belonging to England and I'm not allowed a sense of belonging to Cambodia or to feel that I have a say in the destiny of this Nation.
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by StroppyChops » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:42 pm

We shared a hotel with very white 'human shields' who had volunteered their time and flown in to join the protests last year, because the government forces "wouldn't dare shoot us, we're 'murican". These Muppets seemed to genuinely believe that being brave and free also means bulletproof.
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Re: We are guests in this country

Post by giblet » Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:47 pm

Often the argument is that expats shouldn't say anything negative about the country because we are guests. And while I agree that we should try and be culturally sensitive and perhaps we shouldn't say anything negative for fear of the repercussions, I bristle at the idea that we somehow don't have the moral right to do so.

I agree that expats will likely not be as vested in the results of, say, Cambodian elections, as locals, especially for those of us who do not have Cambodian families or children. I would not argue that foreigners be given the right to vote. But many argue that in addition to not being able to vote foreigners should also not express any opinion, and it's that I disagree with.
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