With all the millions of mines spread throughout the countryside the Gecko was told
that Cambodians can now add American corporate ingenuity to the list of those who
need to be thanked for this misguided expression of generosity.
Members of the mine clearance teams say that the 72 Bravo mines donated by the Chinese
include circuitry and computer chips made by Motorola.
The 72 Bravos are the mines that if tipped more than 10 degrees explode immediately.
The high-tech mines also have batteries with a life-span of 72 years which gives
you a good idea of how long Khmers will continue to lose lives or limbs.
A U.N. military officer told the Gecko he was glad to have had the chance to spend
time at different sites throughout the country as it had given him some perspective
on the Khmer Rouge.
After several months on the border with Vietnam he noted that from what he had read
and heard he thought the KR were quite barbarous but since moving to another sector
where regular contact was maintained with the DK, his opinion had changed.
"The KR gets bad press," he said. "These guys aren't all that bad."
The Gecko's caught wind of a number of rip-offs lately.
Action Nord-Sud had $50,000 in cash stolen from its office and one of its employees
conveniently disappeared as well.
The Gecko Club was also burgled; they lost about $2,000 worth of CDs and equipment.
The way the thief broke in doesn't give much comfort to those who have bought padlocks
on the local market as, apparently, the robber just used his own key to let himself
in and even locked the place up when he left.
Finally, the Gecko's heard that the chief of police of one of Phnom Penh's districts
had his car stolen. There's a brave crook for you!
This latest update on air traffic safety at Pochentong:
The Gecko heard one of the pilots on contract to the U.N. say that Pochentong was
the most dangerous airport he'd ever flown into. How many runways has he landed on?
With the Khmer factions still having problems working together towards a common end,
the Gecko heard of one formula that has enabled at least the SOC and the Khmer Rouge
to cooperate, with the Vietnamese in on the bargain as well.
The key to the recipe is cashews-for a profit of course.
The deals are taking place in Steung Trom, where the KR sells the profitable nuts
to SOC soldiers for 300 riels a kilo who in turn shuttle them to the Vietnamese border.
The cross border mark-up: 700 per kilo and everyone is happy all around.
Everyone knows that journalists face a daunting array of hurdles just getting the
news. With the holiday season upon us the job is all the more difficult and tough
choices have to be made.
The Gecko heard a quip among two of the press corps' more charming hacks after one
of the regular UNTAC noon press briefings which went as follows: "Are you going
to file or are we gonna shop?"
The Gecko wishes everyone a Happy New Year and Happy Shopping as well.