With the big push on to clear the Khmer Rouge out of the border areas in and around
Pailin and the predictable circus of journalists who seem to be flocking from around
the world to cover the event, the Gecko has picked up a trickle of tales coming back
from the front lines.
It appears that checkbook journalism is in operation again by the NHK TV crew. As
in Anlong Veng, the boys from Tokyo were the only ones to actually get to Pailin
environs last week when all other foreign hacks were repeatedly turned back at Treng.
The NHK crew managed catch a lift on an army helicopter to the forward-most positions.
While they may have gotten the scoop, the rest of the press corps wants to know how
much the bribe was?
If anyone wonders why the going is slow on Route 10 from Battambang to Pailin, consider
that according to CMAC estimates there are more than one million mines along one
stretch of the route with some observers guessing that it probably has earned the
dubious distinction of being the most heavilly mined area in the world.
Overall, the Gecko hears that the story on what is happening up in Pailin remains
a bit muddled. One journalist was overheard saying that there were 20 different opinions
about what was going on and not even two agreed .
Ever wonder where stolen cars end up? Sightings of vehicles carrying troops and ammunition
to the front included two cars with NGO plates and another bore a neat stencil "Donated
by UNBRO" on the side.