Stephen Hayward sent this in from Hong Kong: Mark Blake, one of
Cambodia's more colorful characters passed away from many family and friends in
Thailand on May 1, l995.
Many of you who will read this would have met
Mark in Phnom Penh and would surely remember a young man in his prime full of
ideas and often scatty (a word he used often) intellect who was often found as
company over a glass of beer or two.
Indeed, it was the very spirit and
creativity of Mark which led to the building of the Foreign Correspondents Club
which is now home to all those pen happy souls who were very much a part of
Mark's life in Cambodia. The FCC is now not only a place for journalists but a
tourist attraction and visiting spot for Cambodians, expatriates and travellers
to sample the gentle ambiance created by Mark.
It is ironic that Mark
should finally come to rest in a Buddhist country as despite travelling the
world many times over and working in countries as far apart as Australia and
France, he was continually drawn to Buddhist countries and spent some of his
happiest times in Burma, where he worked on the legendary Strand Hotel, and
It is hoped that your learned paper will print these few words
for Mark in your natter-cum-opinion column entitled the "Gecko" as Mark would
also be remembered for setting up that other famous watering hole in Phnom Penh,
the Gecko Club.
It seems every armchair pundit and their brother had
some comment on the Warren Christopher visit. A Western diplomat, commenting on
the perceived lack of support from the U.S. in helping stem the tide in human
rights erosion here in the Kingdom said "we feel so alone."
Khmer-American called the Secretary a "sissy" and said "the U.S. isn't
interested in taking a stand on anything" while adding that "if the Republicans
win (in 1996) then something will happen."
There's another side to this
coin. The Gecko was told of a conversation between a U.S. State Department
staffer and a member of the Cambodian Parliament. The MP wanted the US to cut
off aid to the Kingdom as a means of pressuring the government to do more to
protect human rights. The conversation was as follows (sort of):
must cut aid to pressure the government.
US: Should we cut the funding
for the rehabilitation of Route 4?
MP: On no, not that. We need
US: How about funding for democracy training for MPs?
No, no, not that. That's important.
US: What about funds for training
MP: No way, no way, no way. That's critical.
US: So, maybe
we should cut support for teacher training?
MP: Oh no. Can't do
that.That's a top priority.
US: How about cutting the emergency rice
MP: Impossible, impossible. The people need it
MP: So. Er...um...well... gee?
Christopher visit resulted in one first, at least according to Secret Service
agents. When the Secretary visited the Palace to meet with King Sihanouk, one
agent was asked if he'd ever had to coordinate security arrangements with North
Koreans. A terse "No" was the answer followed by the teeniest, tiniest glimmer
of a Cheshire cat smile.
Talking to KR defectors is always an interesting
experience. One of the boys currently in Dei Eth for re-education, who'd spent
ten years in the jungles of Siem Reap province, said he'd met Ta Mok and
described him as "very cruel." He said the one-legged commander was so severe he
was afraid to look him in the face. The defector had also met Nuon Chea and said
Chea's current position in the DK was "minister of interior."
defector also said that in 1987 he'd come across a herd of about 100 kouprey
near Preah Sa'ah at the foot of the Dangrek mountain escarpment. He shot and
killed one which provided "several hundred kilos" of meat for he and his
cohorts, but, he said, the same year Ta Mok banned the killing of kouprey and
wild elephants (which were also numerous) because they were so rare. Alas, he'd
never seen any rhinos.
Martin Flitman has a new high-tech, digitized
beeper on which he can receive messages of up to 100 characters. Some of his
friends, who wanted to test out the system, tried to send him the following
secret transmission: "Please send the encyclopedia."
However, the master
decoders at beeper headquarters managed to break the code and Martin received
the actual message intended, which was "Please seen we in faculty."
too can send your own special message to Martin. Just call 64646 and ask to have
your cryptic greeting relayed to pager #656. Martin is waiting eagerly to hear
Overworked? Stressed out? Losing too much sleep because the
size of the ozone hole over the Antartic is getting larger? Fed up with the
Phnom Penh Post? Try taking a day trip to Phnom Chiso and enjoy the
A 460 foot high hill jutting out of the Takeo plains, Phnom Chiso
has a beautiful 14th century temple on top. Hawkers next to the temple sell hard
boiled eggs, grilled chickens and cold sodas, beers or bottled water. After
working up a sweat to reach the peak, you can rent a bamboo mat, sit under an
aging Bodhi tree and soak up emerald green vistas stretching all the way to the
To get there, take Route 2 south from Takmau and
after about 35 kilometers just keep your eye open for a hill which juts out of
the rice fields like a plump mango sitting on a banana leaf. The turn-off on the
left is about three klics after you pass the hill.
A resident on Street
19 behind the National Museum says a new no-litter enforcement program was
recently put in place. First a sign was put up telling residents to make sure
they dumped their garbage in a bin. Then three guys with AKs stood guard for
several days to make sure everyone got the message LOUD AND CLEAR.
KJA wants to salute Bert Hoak of Bert's Books fame (and now Bigger & Better
Guest House) for his donation of a computer printer.
in some quarters that RCAF troop strength may be much less than even the
quasi-official figures. However, with many KR defectors simply getting a new
uniform and going back to the field on the government side, these "new" recruits
are filling the ranks of units who didn't actually exist. In any event, the only
way to really know the actual total is to go out and count - one-by-one.
One final note. The Gecko bids a fond farewell to François Torrès after
his three year plus stint in Phnom Penh. A man of wit and intelligence, an
erudite and thoughtful encapsulation of creative, undaunted energy, he will be
sorely missed by all his friends. Hope to see you in Beijing, François!