Election fever hits Angkor Wat

Sam Rainsy is holding the flag on the stairs.

I picked an extremely interesting time to visit Cambodia. The federal election is on this weekend and while most people believe that there will be no change in government, it’s really buzzing because the opposition now have a bit of extra firepower.

Nix (bestie) and I have been asking locals (mainly tuk tuk drivers) who they support and most say the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). The opposition represents change. Their leader, Sam Rainsy, was in self-imposed exile until last week and came home after he was given a royal pardon for charges that many believed were politically motivated. Most of the signs and rallies that we’ve seen were for the current party in government, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), so it was extra exciting to see the man himself on our day trip to the beautiful ruins at Angkor Wat. We had heard that Rainsy was in Siem Reap, and it makes sense for him to visit a site with such national significance.

The CPP have been in power for about 30 years and will probably win again. But it seems like they are genuinely nervous about this election. Sam Rainsy must scare them. They have gone all out in terms of campaign presence on the streets and we even heard that they are “threatening” to “take back” the things that they’ve “given” the country – infrastructure, schools, hospitals – if they lose. It’s a pretty heated situation. We are leaving Cambodia for Thailand on Friday but I’ll definitely be watching what happens.

 

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Diary of a country reporter

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Cessnock.

“Lucie? Lucie Robson, right?”

The mayor of Cessnock recognised me on sight. I was amazed, having never set eyes on him before, or so I believed. He went to to explain that his son, who has now graduated from Law, was a friend of mine in preschool.

And so it is in Cessnock, where faces from my childhood still abound and everybody smiles when they see you on the street. I grew up here and am back for a short time to fill in for an absent journalist at the local newspaper, The Cessnock Advertiser.

In my first week I drove around town with a camera, chatting to locals about neighbourhood disputes, new building projects, people winning awards and sporting competitions. The warmth and community spirit of everyone I met and worked with have really struck me.

I never much liked living in a town with only one of everything, where the exciting outside world was only accessible by driving for hours. Trips to the big smoke were like Christmas and left me longing to be in a place where you could just walk out your door and find a nice cafe, or some trendy people, or an art exhibition. Where Things were Happening. I wanted to be Sophisticated.

After six years of living in various cities around the world, I feel differently. As it turns out, there are plenty of things happening in Cessnock. Social problems remain, but the population seems to be growing and surprisingly enough, there is not enough space in the newspaper to fit all the stories in every week.

People still read the newspaper, too. The phone is off the hook with people wanting their stories or community notices to get printed, or booking classifieds for various occasions. The Advertiser has an important place in the town, even if a lot of it is classic “small town news”. And working as a reporter at the paper is a good insight into the glue that keeps the community together.

Friday Daily political chats: Joe Hildebrand and Mark Kenny

June 26 was the best and worst of days. I neglected all my work-at-home work, glued to ABC24 and Twitter and paralysed by the anxiety of all of it.
Two days after the spill I was fortunate to talk to Joe Hildebrand live on my show. It was great fun.

Joe Hildebrand

One week later Kevin Rudd took control of NSW Labor, which has been a big mess for a long time. We cancelled a report on the Rabbitohs leaving Redfern to talk to Mark Kenny. (Posted without comment.)

Mark Kenny

On The Streets of Sao Paulo

Adriano Sao Paulo 

A few weeks ago cities in Brazil erupted in protest, sparked by a public transport fare increase but fuelled by citizens’ anger about years of corruption and failing infrastructure. Through the miracle of social media I tracked down a young protestor in Sao Paulo and found out what was happening on the streets.

This interview was first broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER on June 21.

Natalia Beristáin – Non Quiero Dormir Sola

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Natalia Berstain film interview

I spoke to the glamorous and polite Mexican film director Natalia Beristáin for the Spanish Film Festival. Her new film, Non Quiero Dormir Sola (She Doesn’t Want To Sleep Alone) is a delicately rendered portrait of two women – an elderly actress and her disillusioned Gen-Y granddaughter – who are forced to let each other into their lives. Natalia and I spoke about the film and the Mexican film industry.

Here’s the trailer:

This was first broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER.