The Gecko says that we shouldn't be surprised to hear about someone getting robbed
of many thousands of dollars in cash at the post office. In order to pay your phone
bill you have to list the serial numbers of all 100 and 50 dollar notes which means
that at all hours of the day you can find nervous delivery boys furtively looking
over their shoulders as they spend what seems like hours jotting down the numbers
for two inch thick stacks of hundreds.
Speaking of phone bills, one client at the Diamond Hotel got theirs reduced by $1,000
when they pointed out to the management that they were getting billed for overseas
calls to different countries during the same time period. The less than bemused customer
noted that it would be difficult to call different numbers simultaneously as they
only had one phone.
The new government has been working around the clock putting together all kinds of
plans to get the country back on track. One idea being talked about calls for the
development of a new airport at Ampil in Banteay Meanchey province in conjunction
with a shopping mall offering Khmer handicrafts. The argument has been made that
the noise from aircraft landing at Siem Reap is causing damage to the monuments.
Solution: close Siem Reap's runway and then have tourists land at Ampil International,
buy some souvenirs and then hop on a shuttlebus for a four-hour, 180 kilometer ride
to Siem Reap city. What a great idea!
Ministries are abuzz with new expat consultants flogging their own ideas too. Although
one boffin now approaches the Minister of Finance's office with a bit of caution
since the last time he did so a venomous snake almost nipped his ankle.
The French and the Aussies have been grumbling about each other again. Especially
after an incident which UNTAC is reluctant to talk about but the Gecko has gleaned
went as follows. A French officer leaves a party with some civilians in his car,
gets stopped 100 meters down the road by an Aussie MP who says "No civies in
UNTAC vehicles" and then tells the guy he has to come in for further questioning.
The French colonel says no way, gets in his vehicle and backs up to the party he
just left, with the MP clinging to the hood determined to proceed with the arrest.
They all end up in the host's house, who by the way has diplomatic immunity, whereby
the Aussie pulls his gun in a show of force. All involved are trying to bury this
one quickly and quietly.
The Gecko hears that with peace about to break out in the Middle East, Cambodia may
also be one of the early beneficiaries. Rumors abound that if the PLO recognizes
Israel, the normalization of relations between Cambodia and Israel may come shortly