The Gecko hears that PM Ranariddh is going the extra mile to find out what's really
happening around town by making low-key, unannounced visits to some of the city's
more interesting corners.
The PM showed up at the gun market on the road to the airport one day. Most of the
dealers didn't recognize him with women calling out "Uncle, uncle. Check this
pistol out." Ranariddh apparently wasn't too impressed with the weapons he saw.
One dealer told him that if he wanted to have a look at some better guns he should
come back the next day as the shopkeeper could procure some newer models from the
Ministry of Defense.
The U.N., in what appears to be a magnanimous gesture of charity, has decided to
turn over officially to the new government the rights of ownership for all the UNTAC
cars that have been stolen. Not suprisingly, there was no public donation ceremony.
Speaking of stolen cars, three more were nipped from in front of the Cambodian Commercial
bank while their owners were inside. The drivers exited the bank only to have the
bank's fairly calm security guard tell them that a tow truck had showed up and hauled
the vehicles away.
The Gecko hears that Cambodia now has perhaps the highest percentage of generals
of any army in the world with 600 in the army and 200 in the police. One senior government
official commenting on the astronomical figures said that "we can't give the
officers cars or villas so we have to give them something."
A large, festive crowd showed up at the Youth Club recently to celebrate the birthday
of Cambodia's new ambassador to Thailand Roland Eng. To thank his well-wishers the
ambassador took charge of what developed into a mass who-can-throw-who in the pool.
At the end of the night dripping guests included the ministers of finance and trade,
several members of the King's cabinet and a few potential Kings as well. When the
crowd started eyeing the Prime Minister as a potential candidate for an involuntary
dip, Ranariddh deftly squashed all hopes by saying "You can't throw me in the
pool because nobody wants to see the government sink."
The Khmer Rouge responded unofficially to recent remarks by Undersecretary of State
Winston Lord's comments on the possibility of a cut-off of U.S. aid if the KR was
included in the new government. One KR official said "Fifty million. That's
nothing. Michael Jackson makes more than that in one day."
Special kudos to ex-pearl diver (with over 2700 hours logged underwater), former
insurance assessor, retired powder monkey, one-time truck driver, Ozzie hack Mark
Dodd. The Reuters scribe was recently promoted to Bureau Chief, the first time a
"stringer" has ever risen to such distinguished heights in the history
of the British news organization.
A final news flash just in from the U.K. Tim Page is the proud father of a baby boy.