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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 24 December 1999

The Gecko: 24 December 1999

Anybody see the wake-up call for the New Millenium in Asia? It was the Macau

handover to China broadcast live around the planet. Quite a telling


A simple ceremony, short and to the point. After 442 years of

Portuguese colonial rule the boys from Lisbon dropped in for a quick good-bye, a

goodluck to you too, and "Yeah, yeah, democracy's important, we've been pushing

it for centuries."

The Chinese color guard had practiced the flag-raising

routine 2,000 times. Looking like a proud, well-oiled machine, they marched in

without missing a beat. So, so crisp. Should one dare to use the adjective


The Portugese youngster cadets, for their part, reminded one

of an Abbot and Costello slapstick comedy: Who's on first, we're

sort of used to being What's on second. Out of step, indifferent, the kids

elicited shades of "We goose-stepped neutrally during the Big War and made money

both coming and going. But what the heck, we've been ordered to do it. Where is

Asia anyway?"

It was over in a flash, no drama, and most of the Macanese

are eager for the Bejing cops to come in and clear up the gangster mess.

Nothing wrong with that.

To celebrate this momentous occasion,

the first person who can spell the Portugese president's name correctly and call

011-855-007 with the response will be rewarded with a special Welcome to the

Millenium prize. The gift should be a Mandarin dictionary but budgetary

constraints prohibit such an outlay.

One small, perhaps relevant footnote

to this historic event: Can anyone guess-once the Chinese lay down the law on

bad guys in Macau-where criminals quite comfortable in an environment with

gambling, drugs, corrupt cops, and guns might think of fleeing to in order to

avoid a new rule of law which will shortly include fast-track capital

punishment? Here's a subtle hint for concerned readers: it starts with a


** People are ready and willing to work. The newly

refurbished Monorom Hotel advertised last month looking to fill 60 positions.

More than 900 eager beavers showed up at their doorstep.


Bargain hunters with a healthy appetite be advised: One of the best culinary

deals in town is the 20-choice Antipasto trolley at the Papparazzi Italian Cafe.

At lunchtime, it's all you can eat for only $3.50.

** Fears of a

Y2K meltdown in Phnom Penh seem predictably muted. There has been no panic

buying of candles or batteries at local markets.




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