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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 17 January 2003

The Gecko: 17 January 2003

The Gecko: 17 January 2003

If you are going to take and try to keep the moral high ground, it's usually

best to stick to the truth. The Sam Rainsy Party recently issued a statement

which included the following:

"January 7, 1979 marked the fall of the

genocidal Pol Pot regime following the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnamese

troops. History and politics would have been simpler had the Vietnamese

liberating or invading troops left Cambodia after the collapse of the Khmer

Rouge regime, like the Allied forces left Western Europe after their

intervention to overthrow the Nazi rule following the Second World

War."

The fact is that tens of thousands of "Allied forces", including

more than 50,000 GIs, remained in Germany until the collapse of the Soviet Union

in the mid-1980s, and 58 years after the end of WWII American soldiers are still

there, albeit in much smaller numbers.

The BBC ran part one of a

documentary on the Khmer Rouge last Sunday; part two will run on Jan 19 in the

am. If you want to feel even more disgusted at the thought of Nuon Chea living

free as a bird up in Pailin, check out his pathetic, chuckling attempts to wave

off any criticism of the KR's murderous years in power.

Some of the lesser

known so-called KR intelligensia are trying to get on with life. In Sopheap, who

defected on June 11, 1998 along with Chan Yuran, Mak Ben, Thiounn Thioeunn and

Kor Bun Heng, is said to be teaching free market economics at the Newton Thilay

Institute in Pursat.

ï Once referred to in the 1980s as "the Queen of the

NGO Community", Eva Mysliwiec is about to leave the helm of CDRI, the Kingdom's

most prestigious think tank cum research and training center, an institution she

built up from scratch starting a decade ago. The back channel scuttlebutt is

that Eva wants to do something more grass-roots oriented and is thinking about

starting a Peace Corps-like operation, one which would harness the untapped

energies of the Kingdom's youth and get them out in the bush to help the poor.

Bravo. Brilliant idea!

ï The alumni reunion in Aranyaprathet for aid

workers who wrestled with the refugee chaos along the border in the 80s came off

without a hitch on Dec 28. More than 250 people attended. Several participants

said there were no funny stories to report from the event. The key issue at hand

was who had the most grey hair, a subject about which nobody was laughing.

ï The border vets visited Tapraya and other haunts in and around the

former Site 2. One of them swears that the Angkorian-era temple Sdok Kok near

Nong Samet used to be on Cambodian soil in the 80s but now, quite mysteriously,

is in Thai territory.

ï The Prahok season is upon us once again. Hold

your nose.

ï One senior government official who travels frequently to Oz

gets the rubber glove in the you-know-where treatment at Customs because he is

on a Suspected Drug Trafficker Priority Watch list. He is not happy. The Aussies

say like it or lump it.

ï PPPost roving correspondent Sheikh Ya'erbuti

reports from Kuwait that 700 journos have already descended on the tiny nation

and the number is expected to double soon. He says "CNN celebreties, not content

with the plush rooms of the Sheraton, have booked out an entire hotel, The Ritz,

and acquired three hummers (jeeps on steroids) to head its convoy for that much

anticipated dash to Baghdad. Cold beer, forget it! Obtaining booze involves a

sycophantic game of ingratiating oneself with staffers from any embassy with a

national brew, and there's always the risk of deportation or losing a limb if

caught. God bless the Philippines."

ï Three Aussies and three Canadians

rented the RCAF helicopter in Siem Reap for a tour around the skies near Angkor.

They forked out the $35 for the trip, and then once in the air asked if they

could fly directly over Angkor Wat for another $5. The pilot said sure why not.

Wrong-wrong m'dong!

ï Although tourists are now well aware that the days

of Democratic Kampuchea are long gone - the name ended with the ouster of the

Khmer Rouge in 1979 - it seems that at least one international bank is still

struggling with Southeast Asian history: one recent tourist from the UK was

surprised to find his credit card bill from Barclays listed DK as the country he

bought his meal.

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