What should be done to reduce drunk-driving behavior in Cambodia?

“Bomb!!!” this explosive and terrifying sound signified the death of another person. Someone might have stepped on the hidden mines, the remnants of devastating civil war, laid under the ground across the country. Some of the victims died and most were left handicapped. It kept haunting them and scared them for life. Such a killer! Decades later, the arrival of the UNTAC flowing over Cambodia heralded the birth o


f another burgeoning influx of new disease, known as AIDS, which later marked the beginning of the lethal increasing number of deaths. AIDS was being dubbed another serial killer, slaughtering lives with no mercy. Hence, the picture of mines explosion and AIDS has been notoriously used to symbolize some of nightmare scenarios, such as poverty, homelessness, separation and hunger, all of which are the direct by-products of those catastrophic events. Cambodians’ lives were in jeopardy. Lives were also uncertain. On the other hand, those are the 1990’s stories. Things keep evolving when the risks of death brought about by the aforementioned killers were minimized in the present time. However, another form of killing arrives when the birth of another killer begins to manifest itself.

Nowadays, the number-one and cool-blooded killer is neither adventuring in the forest stepping on the mine nor undergoing sexual intercourse, transmitting AIDs, it is when we are travelling on the road: traffic Accident.

Traffic accident is described as the collision of vehicles, pedestrian, animals and other objects left on the road which results in death, injuries and property damage. (Wikipedia, 2014). The main culprits behind this phenomenon have been pinpointed. Those include human factors, vehicles design, road design and so forth. Statistically, human factors, ranging from novice driver to drivers’ sleep deprivation, contribute a tremendous percentage of road accidents and deaths. The determining factor, however, that leads to the ever-increasing number of road 3 collision is now ascribed to the driver’s mental impairment caused by the excessive amount of alcoholic substances they consume. A number of studies and reports have accentuated the rising dramatic number of road deaths and linked them to the drunk-driving behaviors. The clear linkage between them two has been highlighted and studied. Measures follow, and it is imperative that to eradicate the number the road deaths or traffic accident requires keeping the number of drunk drivers to an absolute minimum. To actualize goal, personally speaking, at the bottom line of the solutions list lies government initiatives since under no circumstances can this problem be tackled unless multifaceted measures, policies and approaches have to be adopted and implemented. The government has to formulate a number national and public policies to fight against the drunk drivers with strictly enforceable laws and regulations. These anti-drunk driving policies involve intricacy of minor measures and actions, all of which will be addressed and discussed accordingly. I sincerely believe the role that government plays is of paramount importance, and they have to wield their power to iron out this social problem through the following measures.

First and foremost, one of the policies the government has to consider is to ensure that the existing laws and policies concerning drunk driving are strengthened, and resistance to adherence to the laws will be severely punished. Notwithstanding the current laws, they are loosely abided by. The officer who are to practice and execute the law are not motivated enough to perform the tasks. Punishment does not match with the crimes. Corruptions also occur. To end this vicious cycle, it is prerequisite to strengthen the law the make the punishment more harsh and severe. For instance, a hefty fine, forfeit of driving right, suspension of driving license and imprisonment are all punitive measures to penalize those caught drunk while on the road. With legally imposed law and zero tolerance punishments, people will be dissuaded to overindulge themselves in drinking too much or driving when they got drunk for fear that they will be heavily fined or meted out with a severe punishment. Under a plausible scenario, the number of drunk drivers will be shrinking to a very large extent.

Besides law enforcement, secondly, another significant policy to fight against drunk-driving behavior is to monitor, regulate and catch the on-the-road drunk drivers. The primary purpose is to detect the drunk drivers while they are driving on the road. The sobriety check point should be established at and installed in, if not everywhere, most roadways which are densely populated and mostly crossed by. This measure could be done through the utilization of the sophisticated technology, Breathalyser, a device used to estimate the blood alcohol content, which has already been introduced to help facilitate the regulation of drunk drivers. By setting an upper limit for blood alcohol concentration, this device will help identify those drivers whose alcoholic substances in their blood are above the cut-off point, who are considered drunk and illegal to drive. This is proved most practical and effective to discourage drunkards from driving.

Limiting the availability of alcohol within the country is the third policy instrumental in combating drunk-driving incidents. This means nothing but the government’s intervention in setting the administrative system to regulate and limit the distribution, wholesale and serving of the alcoholic beverages to the public. This preventative measure can be realized through regulating the number and location of alcohol-serving outlets and controlling hours and days of the sales of those products. Setting time at which alcohol is served and moving the geographical location to only certain places would provide people gap in consuming a large of amount of alcoholic substances. When those products no longer become omnipresent throughout the country, fewer people will drink, and fewer drunk driving will occur. In addition, this measure also includes the establishment of minimum age, which will act as the deterrent against the consumption by and the sale to adolescents, and which will serve to protect the underage and adolescents group who, at their impressionable age, are highly susceptible to be affected by those alcoholic products when repeatedly exposed to. Furthermore, establishing the pricing policy on the import, sales and distribution of alcoholic products can also deter both sellers and consumers from resisting their temptation to undergo and get actively involved with alcoholic beverage business and transaction.

The forth policy to be adopted after lessening the availability of alcohol is setting up the legal framework to regulate all forms of marketing of alcoholic products and beverages throughout the nation. Ironically, in Cambodia, alcohol is ubiquitous nowadays. It is not uncommon that the prevailing Cambodian’s mass media have been excessively inundated with an inordinate amount of alcoholic products and advertisements. Alcoholic beverages are flying all over the television, radio and newspapers, acting as the main stimulus to the rapid proliferation of drunkards who have been constantly bombarded with those illusory intriguing images and news. This is a very bar to achieving a free-alcohol environment, let alone reducing the number of drunk drivers. Hence, monitoring the alcohol marketing is essential to put a brake on the mounting numbers of drunkards. This policy includes regulating the volume and content of alcoholic marketing, regulating the sponsorship activities that promote alcoholic products, tightening the restriction on promotion in relation to youth or adolescent activities, and monitoring the possible impacts brought about by the new form of alcohol marketing, for example social media. These fantasized measures, when put into implementation despite its infeasibility in contemporary market, will pave the way for the future drunk driving-free environment.

Herein lies the fifth policy aimed at raising the public awareness with the help of government to educate people on how disastrous the impacts when getting involved in alcohol would likely be. This can be done through conducting the campaign, workshop, information session and other forms of information-sharing activities with an effort to inform the likely consequences associated with drunk-driving behavior, to preach the merits of adopting alcohol-free-driving behavior and to share and spread the knowledge to others. As a matter of fact, mass media has a pivotal role in this mission. More programs, advertisement, educational videos had better place more emphasis on the negative impacts of alcohol consumption, screening the possible dangers caused by drunk driving behavior ones may encounter. Equally important, more hours and days should be allocated to publicize these problems daily to assure that people are well-informed.

The sixth and very last, but indispensable, policy to be formulated with the hope of coping up with the drunk- driving behavior is to sustain the political will, leadership and commitment of government to willingly tackle this issue until fruitful results come into existence. Such willingness and commitment can be expressed through the sustained financial, material and mental supports for executing the aforementioned plans, policies and measures. Additionally, creating public agencies, national independent group of committee, governmental institutions and other related groups to keep those regulations under proper surveillance can also be a vital mean to ensure those activities are properly monitored and regulated to achieve the desired results.

In conclusion, traffic accident has been killing a vast array of Cambodian people, some of who are innocents and kids. This tragedy would certainly keep perpetuating, slaughtering thousand lives in more years to come if left intact and unnoticed. To put a halt on it means to combat the drunk-driving behavior perceived to be the main underlying cause of road deaths and traffic accident. The onus is on government to enact the policies and introduce precautionary measures to avert the possible drunk-driving catastrophe on the road. It is heartbreaking to realize that the deaths from drunk-driving accident are tantamount to, even worse than, those of mine explosion and AIDS. It is more than enough. This cannot be solved with just a slogan or proverb “If you are drunk, don’t drive” nor “Today and tomorrow, no traffic accidents”. We need far more than that. Actions are the key to break this vicious cycle and bring Cambodian family happiness, welfare and the sense of togetherness. It all starts from us.

Cambodia—a country with no scientists

Young Cambodian primary school students

Japanese are doubtless worldwide renowned for their acute uniqueness in pioneering, innovating and creating the sophisticated level of technology. The revolutionary emergence that has completely altered the image of Japan is their unprecedented step they took in the revolutionizing and inventing robot whose role had profoundly marked the major turning point in the history of humanity. Since then, Japanese have been highly regarded as one of wisest human beings on planet earth, and this really owes much to those significant breakthroughs they have been achieving throughout decades. Undoubtedly, Japanese are still gaining their momentum in moving forward.

The same thing does not happen in Cambodia. Cambodia, if considering the merit of her technological success and achievement over last decades until now, it’s crystal clear that it is perceived as one of the poorest countries with a desperate shortage of well-rounded individuals to help earn the national fame and propel this tiny country from the fringe into one of the prestigious nations like Japanese have been doing so far. Apparently, It is becoming rare to find Cambodian scientists, engineers and other technicians who are scientifically and technically sophisticated. Because of this gap, there has been a myth allegedly saying the inadequacy of those Japanese-like men can be attributed to our natural inferiority that we Cambodian are born with this inherent limitation.

But hold on, does this assumption make sense?

This myth, however, that a particular person is born intellectually superior to others had already been dispelled by the scientifically proven study and research, and it’s believed that people are merely alike in terms of their intelligence despite the fact that there is somewhat of rare oddness.

The question breaks out, stating why Cambodia cannot find its own qualified technicians, scientists and engineers after striving hard for almost three decades. The blame must not be put on either our genes or nature, but other external key factors worth analyzing critically.

Apparently, Cambodia’s education system is really going on the wrong track, and it is serving to kill students’ innate creativity, intelligence and potential which are far more influential than they appear to be. Personally speaking, there are three main contributory factors that are playing roles in impeding young Cambodians’ intelligence development, and murdering theirs: Poor quality of education, limited number of specialized universities, and most notably, low related-field employment opportunity. To combat these major problems, the government itself is obliged to play a prominent role in surmounting these through the following measures.

First and foremost, improving the effectiveness of primary and secondary education is of paramount importance, and should be first put at the top of the agenda. In Cambodia, primary school is perceived to be a trivial matter. Young kids are discouraged to love science subjects since they enter the school due to the severely disorganized education system, corruption and other related issues. The same problems persist when they are in secondary school. In fact, since the very first stage children enter the education, they should get exposed to those science subjects as much as possible, and it is teachers who are to assist them in learning and making best use of those subjects. Equipping them with sufficient exposure to those sciences subjects since they are in this age will help arouse their interest in those areas. Their motivation would be intensified, their creativity would be sharpened and their level of intelligence would further increase. As a matter of fact, when in secondary school, a greater emphasis on science subjects has to be extensively laid further since they have to be well prepared for their higher education. Furthermore, by shifting more focuses from social science subjects to science ones, there is the likelihood that students’ motivation and interest would be deepened and increased steeply.

Second, the government should improve the quality, availability and accessibility of affordable and qualified technology universities ideally offering science-related subjects. Seemingly, locally, the number of technological universities is operating in a very small number, and the only university socially and academically deemed trustworthy is the Institute of Technology of Cambodia located in only Phnom Penh. Students living in suburban areas find it hard to pursue their higher education majoring in those science subjects thanks to the inaccessibility to those in their areas. By expanding a number of prestigious technology universities to meet students’ needs in almost every corner of the country especially in those remote areas, those students would have the equal opportunities to enroll in those fields of study with ease. Surely, there is still a possibility for those who would migrate to live here and enroll in the university here. Migrating to study in the city is not a wise option, though, since it would have domino effects on others, namely expenses and security which further bar their ways to go for it. Equally important, the government should also place a higher emphasis on investing more resources in enhancing the quality and the effectiveness of those universities. The lack of ample resources including human, academic and financial ones is still the major stumbling block to students’ decision in choosing technological field to study. To exemplify, despite its prestige and reputation, Institute of Technology of Cambodia has been devoid of up-to-date and national documents. Laboratory room and other necessary technical equipments are not well equipped. A number of qualified lectures are shrinking gradually. Consequently, these shortcomings would dissuade students from going there.  By investing more financial resources in reforming its system, it will ensure that students are well-equipped academically for their promising career after graduation, and will further have a knock-on effect on growing numbers of student in this field. After a pragmatic reformation, under a plausible scenario, there will be a growing number of students enrolling for science subjects, ultimately.

The final solution to tackling the declining number technological and scientific students lies heavily on creating more science-related employment opportunities. Nowadays, the number of science-related careers is increasingly scarce throughout the country, whereas there is a superabundance of others. Amid this recession, since the sole purpose of students’ decision upon pursuing their higher education is to prepare themselves for the promising careers right after their graduation, students would resist the temptation to choose those fields of study whose prospective careers are not readily available. It is not uncommon that, for instance, a number of students enrolling for English Literature are growing at a remarkable pace due to the great needs of many teachers of English. The government, to cope up with this, has to give an assurance that those graduates in science fields are to be offered lucrative careers after their graduation. This can be realized by attracting foreign investors to come and invest in creating more technology-related companies, and this would serve as the catalyst to the growing numbers of science students since they would find it mentally and financially secure in majoring in those fields.

Against the backdrop of these setbacks, taking the three causes and solutions above into consideration, to remedy this situation, the role the government plays, above all, is still of fundamental importance. Government has to use the power they are given to iron these related problems out, by taking any drastic measures possible to break this vicious cycle and prevent it from happening. I felt heartbroken when hearing words of belittlement and disparagement from not only other nations but, to add insult to injury, also my own citizens! It is ridiculous and defamatory to misjudge Cambodians are citizens of absurdity. We are deprived of what we should have deserved, but ironically, we are oblivious to the peril we are in. This misleading move that comes in disguise, if without intervention, will slaughter all intelligent kids, and instead leave us a flock of sheep, sooner or later.

By: HUY SAMBATH, sophomore at IFL