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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 03 July 1998

The Gecko: 03 July 1998

The Gecko: 03 July 1998

Some diplomats are getting nervous. As the election campaign unfolds there is a nagging

question lingering in the back of several envoys' minds: "What if Ranariddh

wins again? Then what do we do?"

** RCAF is still trying to secure an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records for

the most people ever carried on a helicopter. During last month's trip to Anlong

Veng for the Khmer Rouge re-integration ceremony, various diplomats and journalists

were ferried up to the former hardline KR base in an Mi-26, the world's largest whirlybird.

When departure time came, one ambassador took a quick count and estimated that 240

soldiers, guests and an assorted gaggle of rural commuters were packed like sardines

into the craft. "Wrong" said an RCAF general proudly, there were more than

300.

** Pundits are both perplexed and worried. The Americans are having a "drastically

reduced" official July 4 celebration this year while the French are all geared

up for a monster bash on the 14th.

To the consternation of dyed-in-the wool, star spangled banner-waving hot dog lovers,

the Yanks are only inviting 100 for brief drinklettes at the Royal. The local Gringo

community is not impressed.

For those lucky enough to be buddy-buddy with the French, sights are set for the

embassy compound at 1pm on Bastille Day. However, with such an early start time,

fears are circulating that many guests may be sloshed by mid-afternoon and ready

for a plunge in the pool.

** Reports from Svay Rieng indicate an inordinate amount of alcohol consumption.

It appears the use of palm wine has resulted in a spate of drunken villagers stumbling

hither and yon, falling off bicycles, or weaving along dirt tracks barely in control

of motocarts. Speculation is rampant that the recent phenomenon may result in a higher

turnout for Toan Chay's party which itself is sporting a palm tree on its logo.

** When the British Deputy Foreign Minister was in town there was much discussion

with RCAF military intelligence about the Chris Howes case. The Brits, having done

their homework, urged the government to arrest the key Khmer Rouge suspects involved

in Howes' death. RCAF intel is said to have responded: "Oh, those guys? They

are all in Thailand now. You know we can't arrest people there."

** Media wizard Mike Fowler is said to be heading back to Cambodia from Cairo for

a two-month sojourn, but his welcome may be less than warm in some quarters. "He

can't come in here until he returns all the glasses he nicked," insists FCC

boss Anthony Alderson.

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