the CG meetings there was a lot of back and forth between government officials and
donors. One senior minister, when explaining why the new government had taken one
year to form, said it was the donors fault as they had not pushed the various parties
hard enough to come to a deal.
** With all the talk about fighting corruption, one bureaucracy watcher says the
inevitable has already happened. With the addition of so many new Secretaries of
State to the government, the number of forms required to get permission to do anything
has started to increase. One source says that it used to take two forms to register
an association but it now takes six.
** An Inter Press Service news story from Paris reported the following on December
14: "...The World Bank announced sanctions last month against the French firm
Thales Engineering and Consulting (THEC) and one of its leading executives Jeremy
Purce for 'fraudulent practices in relation to ... the Cambodia demobilization and
reintegration project.' The 6.9 million dollar World Bank project was set up to assist
the demobilization of about 30,000 soldiers and their reintegration into civilian
life. The French firm was barred on the basis of 'multiple misrepresentations of
fact' from the company, the World Bank said. 'Reliance upon these misrepresentations
of facts led to an inappropriate contract award to the winning bidder.'"
** A whole bunch of noses are bent out of shape as a result of a recent short list
announcement on a construction contract being offered by the Ministry of Industry,
Mines & Energy. The U.S. corporation Caterpillar did not pass muster as the Ministry
said it "did not have the financial wherewithal to compete," according
to one informed source. Two local companies that did make the short list have as
their claim to fame their ability to run casinos.
** A great mystery has finally been resolved. One Cambodian woman says she knows
why barangs have so many freckles and moles. It's because they eat too much food
out of a refrigerator without heating it up first.
** Best wishes to British Ambassador Stephen Bridges and his wife Kim as they head
for Bangladesh. Bridges revealed at his farewell party why he is not retiring yet
to his beachside villa in Phuket. During his tenure here in the Kingdom, he lost
too much money to Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh playing golf.