Not surprisingly, freedom is often a double-edged sword. When you pull the plug
on a tightly-wrapped society and let free market forces behave as they may, one of
the things you get - at least in the current Cambodian context-may be a Karaoke parlor
right in your face (and ears) all night long.
More than a few of these boom-box expressions of the peoples' will have been causing
staunch expatriate defenders of the democratic faith to have second thoughts - at
the very least they've been asking themselves "Why in front of my house, especially
at 2 am when I'm trying to get a good night's sleep?"
One sympathetic Northern diplomat in the capital has come up with an interim, "emerging
democracy" solution. He and his wife now hit the sack with tightly-tucked ear
plugs nightly. It's still unclear, however, whether the sonic vibrations rattling
their bedroom are considered REM-conducive.
** In a separate vein, one Phnom Penh-based German government-funded aid worker,
who wrestles daily with capacity building, was asked, just by chance, "Who is
the President of Germany?" The capacity builder thought for a minute and then
responded: "I don't know."
** Pity Brother Number Two. The word from Pailin is that Nuon Chea is biding
his time with very little to do at his hideaway in the bush. He's feeling very weak
and is said to have heart problems. He also has problems in his knees and elbows,
perhaps a severe form of arthritis, which is making it difficult to walk. In an effort
to remedy the problem, Chea is doing some walking exercises every morning in his
house. No word on what's on his mind as he paces back and forth in his tiny villa.
** A hearty welcome to Cambodia for former South Korean President Chun Doo
Hwan. Chun - who was sentenced to death in 1996 on charges of murder, then had his
sentence commuted to life in prison and was finally pardoned - swung through town
for a private-sector, promotional look-see. His agenda included a bit of golf, a
tour of Angkor Wat and a trip to the beach. It appears an obligatory visit to Tuol
Sleng was not on the schedule. Perhaps after the slaughter at Kwang-ju, Mr. Chun
has lost the stomach for re-living mass murder.