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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 31 October, 1996

The Gecko: 31 October, 1996

S amdech Hun Sen seems to have found an important key to peace and reconciliation

between battlefield enemies. Send in a rock an' roll band along with a handful of

mini-skirted, hot-lipped dancers, throw in a few cases of beer, and presto: battle-hardened,

AK-toting KR guerrillas end up dancing and revelling arm-in-arm for hours on end

with elite RCAF commandos, making friends and maybe even seeing the question cross

their minds: "Hey, we're both Khmer. Why have we been killing each other for

so long?"

Pailin was the first test last week of this new "constructive engagement"

policy. It worked! Not suprisingly, 20-something soldiers on both sides of the front

lines seem to enjoy a healthy bit of disco R&R more than they do squatting in

trenches in remote jungle outposts. Let's hope the lesson won't be lost on the military

planners at General Staff Headquarters.

** Young Billy Dobbs, age 3, son of distinguished Reuters correspondent Leo,

is off to a rousing start in life in his relations with women. He's been known to

approach female visitors to the Dobbs' household, reach up, squeeze their breasts

and giggle "Very sexy!" No word yet on whether he's being coached by Dad

or if this is an independent initiative. Mom is rumored to be looking into hormone

repressant therapy for the fiesty tyke.

** The crack, Indonesian-trained 911 commando battalion may need a bit of

a refresher course in military discipline, at least from seeing some of their behaviour

last week in Pailin. About 200 of the boys were all lined up in formation waiting

for the arrival of an Mi-26 helicopter to take them back to Phnom Penh.

When the giant chopper landed, bedlam broke loose and the troops ran pell mell in

a chaotic scramble to get on board, pushing and shoving, stepping on and over a soldier

who fell on the entry ladder. One western reporter, pressed into emergency porter

service, found himself in possession of a fully-loaded rocket launcher, wondering

nervously if the safety was on as he jammed into the cargo hold.

An officer tried to stem the tide of those getting on - to no avail. Packed like

a tin of heavily armed sardines, the Russian pilots cranked up the rotors in preparation

for departure, and then shut down as the craft was too heavy to get off the ground.

Hatches were re-opened and twenty commandos were ordered/pushed off. Less over-loaded,

the chopper returned safely to the capital.

** One of the capital's most visible pirates, Pizza Hot, has a few rebels

of its own working on the inside. One customer calling in for a bit of take out/home

delivery with extra pepperoni was told "No can do. Call Happy Herbs."



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