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Post Office Blues


I would like to advise Cambodians and expatriates not to use the State of Cambodia

(SOC) Post Office in Phnom Penh or any provincial branch. Friends and family have

told me that letters arrive either opened or taped up, and several UNTAC staff members

have had the same happen to their mail. Some incoming mail is also opened.

When I first arrived in Cambodia six months ago, I used the Thai mail service of

Transindo because I had read in a guide book that mail sent via SOC's mail service

took up to three months to reach its destination. The U.N. pouch sometimes takes

several weeks, so I was not too keen on using that. One day, after having been greeted

by many exceptionally smiling SOC police officers, I thought I would check out what

SOC's stamps looked like. Stamp-collector friends of mine would probably appreciate

some samples, I thought. Thrilled by the colors and design of the stamps, I sent

off some postcards. Great was my surprise when I learned that the cards made it to

Europe and the U.S. in one or two weeks. Since then, I have naively sent most of

my mail from the Phnom Penh post office, and I have enjoyed the friendly service

of the staff and the small talk with other customers.

Those who prefer to keep personal mail personal will have to find other ways of reaching

their friends and family rather than through the mail, phone or fax service offered

by SOC. Knowing that Transindo charges more postage than the SOC post office and

does not accept riels, I would be happy to support Cambodians who need to send off

urgent mail they do not want to have scrutinized by the current authorities.

- Gry Tina Andersen, Assistant Electoral Officer, Kompong Speu



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