The Gecko has picked up another update on air safety at Pochentong. A Thai Airways
flight coming in to land last week had to swerve abruptly out of the way of an Air
Kampuchea flight that was starting to take off. What is it that pilots advise: Please
keep your seatbelts fastened at all times.
The airport staff has, however, stepped up their response to the ever-dangerous power
cuts at the airport. One traveller recently observed a waiting room full of airport
workers who reacted like lightening when the video machine succumbed to a power cut.
Some monks in Phnom Penh are understandably confused. The Gecko was told that some
of the local authorities came to their temple and told them that if they didn't register
to vote, UNTAC would take away their Khmer citizenship. The monks argued that as
Buddhists they had taken vows to stay out of politics. They were told that if they
didn't get involved in politics they might have to stay out of the country.
The recent crisis with the riel has pushed some Phnom Penh residents to the limit.
Last Saturday gangs of motorcycle drivers were seen gathering at gas stations and
bitterly arguing with the proprietors about why the price of petrol had gone up between
the time they ordered it and the time it was poured into their tanks-about a 20 second
interval. Students have also been grumbling. Many from the provinces are on living
allowances of 20,000 riel a month and found that their normal breakfast of a 500
riel bowl of soup was now costing 2,500 riel. Most skipped breakfast.
You can add a new acronym to the alphabet soup of those that already exist in this
transitional period: IPSO, which stands for International Polling Station Officer.
UNTAC will need 1,400 IPSOs for the upcoming election. It's a ten day job with three
days advance training. A key requirements for selection is the ability "to live
and work under extreme hardship conditions." IPSOs will assist POs, supervised
by DESs, which are actually UNVs, who work closely with PEOs, aided by CIVPOLs, monitored
by UNMOs, all of whom ultimately report to the SRSG.