Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open tech talk in Phnom Penh

For those who might be interested, got this by email

Hey, we are having a very great news especially for IT geeks who eager to share or learn new things. In the cooperated ideas of the guys from SharevisionTeam, Khmerjoomla or Jumcam, PytonKhmer, Pailin (Ruby user group in Cambodia), ….We are planning to arrange a very big event ever which we believe it help to open more gates of sharing and learning new things with the specialized communities as mention above.

The event is officially called “Open Tech Talk”, aim to call for the participants in the above communities to meet, discuss, share and give the tech talk to the respective audiences. Right here, you are invited to expression your impression or desire/needs of what you to expected to see from the event and of course, feel free to suggest ideas by replying to this email. For those in each community who interested to organize this event, I would suggest to register in SharevisionTeam group ( and have communication there.

The draft date of the event is suppose to be 2011, Jan 15.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Doing business in Asia

Today I found this in my inbox. A brief description of someone wanted to do business in Asia. It doesn't even matter what country this is about:

I have applied for an investment license at the One Stop Unit in March
2009. I have still got no answer. The process is lengthy, complicated
and completely in-transparent. In reality, investors buy themselves to their licenses. I didn't pay, so I didn't get the license.

After all I have given up to make business here. If you are not
ruthless, you will only burn your fingers.

As someone who believe that business is driving development, this story shows the real problem of developing countries: It's not so much poverty or lack of education (though this is a huge problem, but not the cause). It is a lack of desire from governments. Desire in developing the country. Most governments in SE Asia are just fine with the situation, since their members already made enough money for themselves.

Let's see a developing country as a start-up business. The way they do it now is the way start up operated in the time of the first internet bubble. VC (in our example NGO and IMF and Worldbank) gave money, they burned it and asked for more money. Because there was a steady stream of new money coming in, there was no real reason to focus in the business model. That's the way developing countries operate: The infrastructure of the country is not financed by income from operations like taxes, but from donations and support from international institutions. The lack of taxes used to run the country is caused by a) lack of tax collecting processes and b) corruption.
So why aren't countries collecting taxes? Actually they do, but the system is far from transparent. First of all, foreign companies are due to tax, always. Local family businesses have to pay tax as well, but seldom do. The reason is: They won't get caught, and tax officers always think its too much work for them to collect the few dollars from small businesses. Then of course is a total lack of infrastructure and understandable tax laws. The reason is simply again the missing desire. If you want to get tax, you will establish a system.

The main reason why there is no system is corruption. This is all over Asia, and it's the biggest obstacle for the developing countries. Corruption kills competition and kills development of markets. Only the wealthy elite can afford to pay the bribes, so they run moist of the businesses and get a de facto monopoly. Without competition there is no incentive to grow and improve, so most businesses aren't developing much. Just look at state owned Hotels in Asia, or the quality of local run companies in general. Most use quite old equipment, producing same products since 10 years.

Why its important to have foreign companies?
Because they drive markets faster on a higher level. The know the process of competition and they know also they have to work harder then local companies (not only because of corruption, but also because cultural differences, lack of networks in the country a.s.o.) Successful foreign owned companies are a challenge for local companies, so the they have a quite good reason to improve and get the business.

But as long as the desire of the people in charge is their own bank account and not the countries wealth, there is no change at all.

Friday, October 1, 2010

First Cambodian Space ship build at Barcamp Phnom Penh 3

Eduardo taught us how to build a Cambodian Spance ship. One of the many sessions at Barcamp Phnom Penh 3. you should not miss this event, its great!!!! Thx to organizers and sponsors.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Khemara English-Khmer Dic for iOS4 is now in the App Store!!!

This is fucking awesome!!!

Khemara English-Khmer dictionary application delivers the most trusted reference content available. It is one of the largest English-Khmer Dictionary and has the most comprehensive content with a fast, intuitive interface. Providing concise definitions as a quick guide to meaning, the application helps users on matters such as spelling and usage.
This dictionary can help foreigners learning Khmer and is also of use to Cambodians learning English.

* Professionally designed to be easy to read and understand.
* Instantly look up accurate and extensive definitions and meanings.
* Bookmarks for selected words.
* Find definitions, spelling and word suggestions in this searchable dictionary.
* Sample sentences show words in use.
* Does not require an internet connection.
If you have any comments about this Dictionary, please leave your
feedback at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The ugly face of tourism development in Cambodia - and CBRE's role in it

Must read: Big bucks hype Cambodian beaches


Tourism will eventually overtake all the islands in the Rong Archipelago dislodging villages and possibly offering work for today’s school children as maids and porters. They will live on the perimeters of luxury holiday villas on island they once called home, knowing that the their elected government leased their island home to foreign investors without a single public hearing to gather local feedback or opinion.

Forbes magazine joins other consumer publications such as Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure in identifying Cambodia’s tourism as “Asia’s next big thing” and “a place to watch”.
This level of publicity raises concerns that the hype and promise of “big buck” tourism will ultimately rob local residents of their livelihood, raise land prices and evict fishing communities from their traditional beachside villages.

As much I like tourism and development I also like public involvement. Cambodia is a country for sale, or to be more specific, that is already sold. The money goes to the CPP and the corrup government. and the ordinary people have still to suffer.
Yes, it creates job, but the price is that CB Richard Ellis and other are just stealing the land of Cambodians.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Geeks on train - join us

Some people - in particular @3105, Jan and me - are tinking about having Geeks on a train in the next weeks or months. Some more information is on

The basic idea is to book a coach from BKK to Vientiane in Laos (or at least to Nong Khai). We set up our own network there and then lets hack or what ever.

If you like the idea, send commenst, emails or tweet. Hastag is #geeksontrain.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Democracy and shoes

My friend Kounila just won a contest organized by the United States Embassy with this video:

Tharum interviewed her

Friday, March 19, 2010

TED conference in Phnom Penh

I was very excited when Tharum posted on the Barcamp Phnom Penh Mailinglist that he is considering organizing TEDxPhnomPenh. He is one of the most prominent bloggers, writers, journalists in Cambodia, and also organizer of the Barcamps. Many people supported him on the list and were excited too.
I was then wondering about an Email, that a foreign NGO in Cambodia already owns the licence for TEDxPP. And I was wondering even more when people on the list were told to contact the licence owner soon.
Yes, legally its clear: You have the licence, you have the rights. Maybe it's just a big communication problem, and everything will be fine at the end. My concern is just that NGOs take over a small flower that was just planted by the Cambodian Internet community.
Yes, TED is more than a Geek event, but it is also clearly not just an NGO event. So let's hope that the local community will be involved in TEDxPP.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Please vote for my podcast

Please vote for me: "Wanhoffs Wunderbare Welt der Wissenschaft". I was nominated as Best Podcast for the Bobs, an award by The Deutsche Welle. Thanks for voting!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

500 Entertainment places in Phnom Penh - at night

The Mirror re-published a story about the entertainment business in Cambodia, in particular the nightlife. People already know the bars and restaurants near the riverside, and probably some of the beergardens. But there is a hidden nightlife as well. What looks like a beauty salon offers also beautiful girls, and a restaurant might have a "special" room.
Please note that the sex tourists are not (only) white men, most are actually from Asian countries like Korea, China, Vietnam.

Phnom Penh: At present, there are nearly 500 entertainment places in Phnom Penh, such as beer gardens, karaoke parlors, night clubs, discotheques, restaurants or other places where alcohol and some meals are served, accompanied with music, and female beer seller [often called "Beer Girls"].

The above report went on to say that in Phnom Penh there are 142 hotels, 353 guesthouses, 8 [mainly poor people's building blocks, 54 massage shops, and 233 tourism agencies. 303 places were provided with tourism licenses, 91 new sites were opened, the validity of 266 sites was suspended, and 17 sites were closed because of armed clashes, sex trafficking, rape, and other disturbing offenses.