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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 30 october 1998

The Gecko: 30 october 1998

** A Western businessman flew in from Singapore

several weeks ago with three grand worth of computer

equipment. As he passed through customs, wondering about

duties, one of the officials noticed he was sporting a

Hun Sen watch and asked the barang where he got it. With

a weighty "Don't ask, don't tell" look, the

senior executive replied: "I can't tell you

that". The customs official waved him by duty free,

with a graciousnesss befitting a high-level status worth


** One visitor to the Kingdom engaged in some exotic

shopping before his departure, sailed through the

security checkpoints at the airport without raising an

eyebrow, and then told a fellow passenger after his

arrival in Bangkok that he'd carried a hand-grenade with

him on the flight as a small souvenir from his Cambodian


** Soothsayers in town are concerned. They note the

Tonle Sap switched directions one month earlier than

normal and now speculate this might be a bad omen for the

future of the Great Lake. However, golf course

developers, looking on the brighter side of things to

come, say if the lake dries up due to continued

siltation, there is enormous potential for the

construction of sand-trap-focused golf course in the

"off-shore" Siem Reap area.

** The Cathouse has come up with a new scheme to cope

with the economic downturn. Instead of Happy Hour,

they've instituted a "Depression Hour", and it

lasts a long time - from 4pm to 8pm. Prices have been

slashed. With the slogan "we're waiting for things

to get better," the management is confident there is

a light at the end of the no-government tunnel.

** The appoinment of Ginger Spice as a UN Goodwill

Ambassador for Contraception and Sex Education has the

development set all a-twitter with the thought that one

of Britain's most famous condiments might pay a courtesy

call on Cambodia to help fight the AIDS epidemic.

Reflecting the wave of excitement sweeping the donor

community, one British official enthused: " The

Spice Girls are our biggest current export in terms of

culture. Its really depressing."

** Some American tourists travelling in Spain were

recently queried about the on-going tiff between US

congressman Dana Rohrabacher and the Cambodian

government, and the larger debate over continued US aid

for the Kingdom should the Constitution be amended to

allow for the formation of a new government with a simple

majority. Bert and Madge Huckabee, who hail from Tulsa,

thought pensively about the issue for several minutes,

their brows furrowed, and then responded: "where's


** The "Touchy-Feely Management of the Week

Award" goes to USAID. Gathering all its local and

foreign partners together for a self-criticism session

last week, USAID organizers unveiled a big "Sok

Sabai Happy Face" white-board. "This meeting

doesn't have to be all about problems," USAID told

NGO reps who were either baffled (Khmer) or cringing with

embarrassment (foreign) - "anytime, you can come

right up to the 'Sok Sabai Happy Face' board and write up

anything that has made you happy working with

USAID!" Then everyone was given a namecard and pen

and asked to draw a little picture on one corner about

what USAID meant to them. Most of the Khmer NGOs got the

point straightaway and drew stylized gardens, with USAID

as the golden sun overhead nurturing the beautiful

flowers of, presumably, democracy-building, judicial

training and health care. Shame on the cynic who

separated USAID Washington and Phnom Penh on different

sides of the card, both feeding into a rickety machine

with mis-matched cogs and gears and leaking oil.

** The buzz in Bangkok? Possibly the Funcinpec Royal

Air Force. During the tough peace negotiations in 1991,

Prince Ranariddh often sought solace and contemplation by

flying his squadron of radio-controlled airplanes. So

great was the solace and contemplation that his aides

were often hard-pressed to drag him back to matters of

state. Weather conditions seem perfect, then, for FRAF to

take to the air again.

** Aussie novelist and lawyer Eddie asked for a

takeaway pizza from Happy Herbs. "What flavor?"

"Eddie's pizza," he replied, having had one

already. "Eddies" was misheard, instead, for

"Happies". Result? A full three-day psychotic

experience and severe sickness for Eddie, who said that

he'd never had marijuana before and felt like his brain

was melting.



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