Is anyone getting a little tired of all the death threats being bandied about
the country. The Gecko is. It's as if in this pre-election period the idea of threatening
to kill someone has become a national past time. For a while now the Gecko has been
hearing of one new death threat per day. UNTAC has been receiving their unfair share
as have some of the newspapers in town. The KR is posting death threats in villages
up north. DESs have been threatened by illegal loggers.
A local businessman was heard muttering the other day about how disappointed he was
to learn that his staff had been stealing him blind. He said that in the last five
months of running his grocery store he'd been milked for over $8,000 worth of goods.
What hurt the most was that it was his own relatives, which he thought he could trust,
who were ripping him off.
Did anyone catch the recent standoff at the FUNCINPEC office near Wat Phnom? About
100 SOC police cornered two moto thieves who decided to try and hide out inside the
party office. The Gecko overheard one SOC police officer comment on how bad it was
that the Vietnamese had left town because otherwise he would have been able to get
something to eat and a cold drink while the snafu was being unravelled.
Many of the veteran journalists in town have been raising a stink of late over the
swelling crowds attending the UNTAC noon press briefings. The numbers have grown
so fast in recent weeks that seasoned scribes can't even get inside the conference
room to hear the press spokesman. This wouldn't be so troublesome if it were only
competition with colleagues. Alas, the word is out on the backpacker circuit that
if you pick up some bogus press credentials in Bangkok you can come to Cambodia and,
with an UNTAC press pass, pretend you're a journalist. One UN official guesstimated
that at least 30% of the press cards issued in recent months were probably based
on phony i.d. cards.
Tourists, adventurers, overlanders and a variety of other fun-seekers are apparently
not only jamming the briefing sessions but, more to their liking, are also bopping
about the countryside with press cards in hand on free UNTAC helicopter rides. The
word is out on the Asian traveller circuit that Cambodia is "the only war you
can go to for free."
With all the jitters businessmen are feeling about the situation in Cambodia one
enterprise in town still feels confident enough to put on a bright face. Literally!
The Gecko heard that the Standard Chartered office on Sivutha Blvd. is getting a
new coat of paint, just in time for elections.