Cambodia is a country coming to terms with its past
Malcolm Finlay describes his time in the “heart of darkness”
- By: Malcolm Finlay
You know a country has been through a rough patch when you can tell where the border is from the air. As I flew over the Thai border into Cambodian airspace the ordered irrigation of the fields below turned to a haphazard patchwork, the tarmacked highways to dirt tracks, well built houses to thatched shacks.
Before the Vietnam war Cambodia and Thailand had been economically comparable. Cambodia was seen as idyllic by most visiting Westerners. But then as the Vietnam war spilt over into its neutral neighbour, the Khmer Rouge was able to gain a foothold. After a prolonged civil war this band of ultra extreme Marxists succeeded in turning Cambodia into a living hell, instigating a mass genocide in which nearly a quarter of the population was killed.
During this period Cambodia was nicknamed “the heart of darkness.” Only four doctors survived. The emancipation of the country by the