The recent beauty contest had more than a few journalists in a huff. Eager to
cover the Miss Cambodia pageant, most hacks in town rushed to the Bassac Theater
only to find the organizers were charging the Press $50 each to enter.
All the Japanese, flush with cash, readily forked over the dough; the Khmers had
no choice but to leave; and, indignant Western wire service scribes, as expected,
made a fuss and complained to the new Information Minister who, in one of his first
confrontations with the media, intervened and immediately cancelled the fee. There
is no word on whether those who paid were refunded their fifties.
The Gecko hears that in the final throes of UNTAC, which is still packing up its
gear, the plunder continues. One of the few remaining staffers commented that "several
hundred thousand dollars of valuable equipment" was recently driven away from
HQ without the proper signature from Medilli.
"Some guy just got in the truck and drove off with it," quipped the astonished
observer. "And nobody has the slightest idea where the stuff went."
Another UNTAC hanger-on says the remaining staff (numbering less than 50) are really
ticked-off that their per diem has been cut from $135 a day to $95. He also noted
personnel were grumbling about the continuing gunfire and warfare while riding to
work in their air-conditioned buses.
Remember the monumental achievements of the UN Volunteers, the people Professor Austin
rightly described as the "front line soldiers of the election"? There's
one still in-country whose job is to audit the remaining nine Poles here.
Apparently they've misplaced a refrigerator and, if it can't be found, the eastern
Euros will have to pay for it out of their own pockets.
An Aussie businessman who visited Ho Chi Minh city recently was advised not to carry
pens in his shirt pocket because they might get nicked so he left his collection
back at the hotel but his glasses were stolen instead.
When he went to the police to file a report, they told him a stolen pair had just
been turned in but he wouldn't be allowed to see them until he filed a report.
He then pointed out that he couldn't file any report without his glasses.
He returned to his hotel and managed to bang out a brief report saying "one
pair of glasses stolen". A little later, the police telephoned him to say they
had a pair and could he please come down to have a look.
Some foreigners working at the airport were recently thrown into a state of paralysis
when they found a rather large snake in their office.
They fretted for some time over what to do until a local showed up. He looked with
a smile at the frightened expats, then grabbed a stick and whacked the snake on the
head, killing it on the spot.
An airline company was in-country recently to check out provincial airports. They
reported that Stung Treng was too dangerous to land - the least of the problems were
all the cow pies that ended up on the underside of the wings.