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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 12 July, 1997

The Gecko: 12 July, 1997

The Gecko: 12 July, 1997

There's been much talk about whether or not what happened last weekend was a "coup

d'etat". According to The American College Dictionary, the definition of a coup

d'etat is: A sudden and decisive measure in politics, especially one effecting a

change of government illegally or by force. You decide.

** Looters have interesting tastes. The soldiers who ransacked the duty free

shops at Pochentong took the fine wines first, then the XO cognac and lastly the

run of the mill whiskies. One duty free shop owner estimates he lost $750,000 worth

of stock in the free-for-all.

** Some adventuresome lads also stole the gas pumps at petrol stations along

Pochentong Boulevard. Who Knows? With a little ingenuity, we may soon see a few slightly

battered Total gas pumps dotting the countryside, hard at work pumping water onto

happy paddy fields.

** The rush to get out of the country on charter flights has benefitted one

Filipino. Having overstayed his visa by only two and a half years, he decided now

might be the time to check out without paying his dues, which at $3 per day amounted

to $2,736.

Right he was. Immigration officials at the airport were too hard pressed to check

visa expiration dates and the crafty chap probably wore a smug smile all the way

home.

** One system which was intact as hundreds flew out of Cambodia: the guys

who collect the $15 airport tax didn't miss a soul, although its unclear if CAMS

will ever see the cash.

** A Caltex convenience store lost an electronic cash register valued at $25,000

during the looting frenzy. The proprietor believes he may be able to buy it back

on the market for $600.

** Two Brou tribesmen from Rattanakiri may now have second thoughts about

a whole range of issues including peacekeeping skills. They flew in to Phnom Penh

on Saturday to attend a seminar on National Conflict Resolution only to find chaos

at the airport. Whisked away to their hotel they watched the massive fires darken

the skies of the capital from the roof amidst intermittent explosions and gunfire.

The seminar was cancelled and they wisely decided it was a bad idea to leave the

hotel premises.

The lads have since headed back north with no doubt a much clearer idea of how conflict

resolution works first hand.

** Saturday's meeting at the Council of Ministers provided an interesting

contrast. Tea Banh and Sok An were deliberating before an audience of foreign defense

attaches about how the situation "was completely calm" just when more than

a few loud explosions shook the building. A few in the audience were heard muttering

unprintable obscenitites under their breaths.

** If anyone gets up to Samrong in Siem Reap province near the Thai border,

say hello to the three Indian traders who have been hanging out there the last six

months. The boys are reportedly selling cloth but local residents are confused as

they say no one ever buys any.

** For those who missed it, the Naga Floating Casino has had to close. All

their Filipino staff decided to pack it in.

** A special, albeit sad farewell to Ahmad Yahya, Kem Sokha, Son Soubert and

Son Chay who left the country on Thursday. One can only hope that they will find

a way to come back some day. They were some of the too few MPs who actually understood

what a Parliament is supposed to do. To their credit "rubber stamp" is

still not in their vocabulary.

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