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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 16 May, 1997

The Gecko: 16 May, 1997

His Most Excellent yang Tuan Besar di Dunia Benny Widyono will be sorely missed

by his legions of friends here in the Kingdom. We all know he's too young to retire,

especially given his keen ability to dance a jig. In fact, the Select Committee of

Distinguished Two-Step Jurists has announced that Benny is the unanimous winner of

the "Most Favorite Diplomat in Cambodia Since UNTAC Award".

** Samdech Hun Sen demonstrated his sense of humor at a press conference he

gave on May 12 at his Takhmau residence. The Second Prime Minister said requests

by Human Rights groups to reduce his personal army were ridiculous noting that "I'm

not NATO, I don't need arms reduction."

He also claimed that the troops stationed at his Tiger's Den were not personal, and

added that he was able to drive a tank but did not know how to operate one in reverse.

The premier said that there was possibly one redeeming feature of the co-prime minister

system in that while he could play golf, he couldn't sing Karaoke - however his coalition

partner Prince Ranariddh could, har, har, har.

On the links issue, Samdech noted, with upcoming membership in ASEAN in mind, he

thought he could win against President Suharto because "he's old and cannot

have a good swing. I'm still young so I can still have a very good swing."

** Speaking of taking a few swings, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher sent a

friendly letter to the two Prime Ministers on April 17 after the grenade attack.

In it he said:

"Now I am forced to inform you that recent circumstances have eroded my confidence

in your committment to leading the people of Cambodia based on democratic values.

The attack against Mr. Sam Rainsy...shocked all Americans and was interpreted as

an insult to our respect and support for your government. It was a terrorist attack,

ordered by and carried out by terrorists.

"Therefore, I am writing to inform you that if another incident of a similar

type occurs in the future, I will act to have Most Favored Nation Status revoked

from Cambodia. Also, I will insist that any assistance forthcoming to Cambodia from

the United States in the future should be withheld."

** You know the bodyguards you can hire in Siem Reap for a hefty price to

take you to remote temples and protect you from bad guys. Well, you may need additional

bodyguards to protect you from the bodyguards.

One Japanese TV crew flew up and rented a truckload of guys with guns and then headed

off into the bush. At the temple site some of the guards got drunk during lunch and

got into a bit of squabble. Triggers got happy with the end result: one guard dead

and another wounded. The Japanese were not amused.

** One wonders if the Israeli government did its homework on deciding which

NGO to use to administer aid funds in Cambodia. At the reception celebrating Israeli

Independence Day on May 6 at the Cambodiana, the Ambassador announced that funds

were going through Youth With A Mission for humanitarian efforts in the Kingdom.

Isn't YWAM's primary Mission to convert wayward souls - including Jews - to see the

Light and come to the Lord?

Also, has anyone ever figured out how the Israeli government can plead poverty to

the US Congress and convince it to give $3 billion per year to support the Land of

Milk and Honey, and then turn around and give its own tax revenues away to other

countries in the developing world? Is anyone else out there confused as to where

the logic is in this process?

** CANDO, the Peace Corps-like program set up to bring Khmer Americans back

to Cambodia to do a year's worth of "volunteer" work, was so successful

in at least one aspect of its operations that staffers nicknamed it "I DO".

Apparently heaps of eager young DOers decided they could and are now happily married.

** The heat is affecting everyone's brains badly. It sinks into your pores

just after sunrise, penetrating down to the bone marrow. By noon the eyesight has

gone fuzzy and the thought processes begin to wander. At two o'clock you think "Oh

God, its only two o'clock. Four more hours until sunset." The minutes feel like

hours as the weight of the temperature saps your strength, feet dragging, each step

in sunlight like wading through a pool of hot, dry water; the sweat dripping, matted

hair on the back of your head with no relief. Even the evenings are like saunas,

lying on pillows soaked in perspiration.

You can hear the silent prayers all over town: "Oh Dear National Assembly, please

re-convene and propose a total work stoppage until the Hot Season ends. We're sure

the debate would be short and the vote unanimous."

Any sign of rain out there?

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