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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 12 May 2000

The Gecko: 12 May 2000

Pyrrhic victories for a buck a pop. There was a bit of a Mexican stand-off last

week in Siem Reap. A bunch of western tourists balked at paying the newly instituted

$1 charge to be ferried in a small boat to the bigger fast ferry waiting off shore,

arguing that their $25 fast-boat fee included the transfer charge. For 30 minutes

they held their ground with the ferry captain who wouldn't budge. In the end pick-up

trucks showed up and drove the folks across the lake bed to the waiting fast boat

for free.

ïï A couple of UNDP staffers in Phnom Penh, befuddled by the labyrinthine

nature of the development agency's bureaucracy, say they have taken to reading and

studying the comic strip "Dilbert" to help them better understand and appreciate

how the system works.

ïï A reporter who attended the 30th anniversary celebrations in Ho Chi Minh city

on April 30 was hoping to secure a direct email hook-up in his hotel room.

"Oh, very dificult, very complicated, sir," replied the concierge. "Government

regulations! Very strict. Many rules. No, no! Not possible!"

The reporter wondered aloud if a Mr Benjamin Franklin could help sort out the red

tape.

"Oh yes. Maybe. Let me check." Five minutes later Mr Franklin had the journalist

plugged in direct bedside-to-cyberspace.

ïï A visitor returning from a stint in Indonesia relates that the new Indonesian

President, Abdurrahman Wahid, is retaining his sense of humor amid all the strife

in the unsettled archipelago. Gus Dur was asked how the relationship was holding

up with his new vice president and responded: "We're getting by. I can't see,

but she can't talk."

ïï The scuttlebut from Hollywood is that Meg Ryan has been selected for the lead

role in Oliver Stone's upcoming retrospective movie about romance and intrigue in

the Thai border refugee camps.

ïï One foreigner who obviously does not respect the rule of law (but probably regularly

complains about the impunity problem) was motoring up from the river towards the

train station, and after he broke the law by taking a left turn on Monivong the coppers

pulled him over.

The quick-thinking lad tried to offer the constables 2000 riel for a fast getaway,

but they would have none of it.

No, no, no they explained. Bribes were now out. Their boss had laid down the law.

The newly prescribed punishment: Stand in front of the "No Left Turn" sign

and look at it for 30 minutes so the same mistake won't be made twice.

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