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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 21 Nov 2008

The Gecko: 21 Nov 2008

Talk around town

Where the walls have ears...


Special congratulations to Sister Mary Denise Coghlan, AM, who was officially presented with the Order of Australia at a ceremony at the Australian Ambassador's residence on Wednesday.

Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson presented the award on behalf of the Governor General of Australia to Sister Denise for "service to international humanitarian aid".

Adamson said the Order of Australia, the presentation of which was determined free of patronage and political influence,  was the best known of the 53 different national honours bestowed by the government and was given to individuals who had "achieved their best and to those who had helped others".

Adamson added that Sister Denise has a lively intellectual curiosity and noted with a smile that the award was also "a re-claiming of Sister Denise for Australia".

After working in refugee camps in Thailand in the 1980s, Sister Denise, who has a firmer handshake than Saint Ignatius of Loyola's devotion to the Lord, came to Cambodia in 1990 as  director of Jesuit Refugee Services in Cambodia and has been here since then working, as she said at the ceremony, "... to do something for peace and reconciliation in Cambodia and to make a life more just ... and to help build a world that our God desires".

At the initial session of Parliament, for the new government, one MP asked afterwards for a transcript of the speeches given. The reply was: "Not available. They are top secret."

Inquiring minds are curious to know the answer to this question: Which government ministry headquarters building valued at US$10 million was sold for $4 million to a company owned by the wife of the respective minister?

The messed-up ADB-funded emergency food aid project is drawing more fire. One development official familiar with the bungled program said:  "Those guys should be hung.  Five years after the WFP scandal, ADB moves in and does not use any expertise or lessons learned from all that. It's unbelievable."

After Barack Obama's election victory in the US, a Cambodian woman watching the news on TV asked an American: "So which party is Obama,  CPP?"

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