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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 18 April 1997

The Gecko: 18 April 1997


In case you missed it, UNESCO released a new list of CD-rom titles now available

to the public a fee. They include:


  • "North American Sea Cucumbers: Expert Information on over 90 species of

    sea cucumbers found throughout the Pacific,"

  • "Lobsters of the World: Describing more than 140 lobster species with their

    corresponding world distribution maps,"

  • "Etymological Dictionary of Grasses: Eight years of research were required

    to compile this elaborate interactive glossary of more than 13,000 terms,"

  • "Linneaus Protist: Complete information on 312 protist species from the

    North Sea."

Some new book titles include: "Basic Education in Prisons" and "Phytoplankton

Pigments in Oceanography." Order now while stocks last!

** Are people on edge around town? Ask the attendees of the farewell party

on April 8 for the last Blue Beret in Cambodia, Major Jan Wanderstein. When one of

the balloons put up for the occasion suddenly popped, the stunned silence was deafening,

followed by some very, very, very nervous laughter.

** The Phantom of the Cambodiana, who has been known to turn up at whatever

reception happens to be taking place there, is a bit worried that with the opening

of the Inter-Continental Hotel he may have to hoof it all the way across town just

to get a free drink and a bit of inside gossip.

** Has anyone ever wondered why the firing off weapons on Khmer New Year is

legal? The however many thousands of rounds fired from AK-47s, M-16s, and assorted

pistols in just about every corner of Phnom Penh into the night sky have to come

down somewhere. Hopefully not on your head!

This year's free-for-all which lit up the night with tracers seemed a bit more than

in previous years, according to many observers. Mused one diplomat in the capital:

"It must have been a warning, a rehearsal or a cover-up for some other sinister


At the very least, those who ran for cover when the revelry started can take some

solace that there are that many fewer bullets left which could be used to fire at

someone directly. Though that will be no comfort to the one woman killed and five

people injured, according to the military police, in this New Year's rain of bullets.

** Is it at all possible to retain some sense of humor when one is caught

in a grenade attack against unarmed demonstrators? American Ron Abney of International

Republican Institute, who was wounded in the mid-section, when asked by a hospital

administrator at Calmette what his profession was said: "Idiot.....professional


** The U.S. Embassy had some folks in last week from their Bureau of Diplomatic

Security in Washington, DC to brief embassy staff and American business representatives

on how to stay safe. Here's their advice on grenade attacks:

If one comes your way, DON'T FREEZE! If it lands next to you, kick it away, turn

in the opposite direction, take one giant step and hit the deck as fast as you can.

DO NOT keep running. The blast range for a grenade is about 30 meters in all directions.

If you are standing upright within that range, your chances of getting severly wounded

are much greater than if you are prone on the ground, even - if when lying down -

you are closer to where the grenade goes off. Fuse times are between 4 and 8 seconds

Lie down on your stomach, with your nose smack on the pavement and cross your legs

- keeping them straight - with feet pointing towards the grenade. DO NOT put your

hands/arms over your head, but keep them straight by the side of your body (If you

put your arms up over your head, you expose key vital organs like heart and lungs,

assuming your feet are pointed at the grenade).

The bottom line, even if you follow the above, is that it is likely you will get

wounded, but the above instructions, say the experts, is the best way to minimize

the damage.

** Some amateur non-experts have come up with their own security advice for those

who want to attend any future demonstrations:

  • Stand behind the cops and take pictures of anyone who looks suspicious

    because if anything happens the evidence may prove useful in solving the case.

  • If the demonstration has extremely poor security, be on your toes. The grenades

    may be on their way.

  • Don't stand next to Rainsy. Whoever was trying to kill him failed. They may try


  • If you see a well-known businessman carrying a pistol, be careful. He may have

    had luggage problems that day.

** Is the United Nations going to come in with big money in support of

the next elections, assuming they are allowed or asked to do so? No way, says an

inside source. When asked how much the UN would be willing/able to spend for another

round of elections in the Kingdom, the reply was $15 million. When compared to the

$2,700,000,000 spent on the '93 polls, that's about .0055 percent of what UNTAC doled


** This from the NGO sector. What's the difference between a specialist and

an expert? A specialist knows everything about nothing and an expert knows nothing

about everything.

** With all the idle banter about who's a communist, one academic reports

that the writings of Marx, Lenin and Mao have never been translated into Khmer.



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