Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 14 September 2001

The Gecko: 14 September 2001

The Gecko: 14 September 2001

A self-described "international financier", most recently from Pattaya,

apparently born in Austria, but also claiming Dutch and Thai citizenship, and

now residing at a luxurious $5 a night guesthouse on St 178, has offered one

Phnom Penh businessman a million dollar deal.

Claiming to represent a

consortium interested in investment opportunities in Cambodia, his proposal is

this: he flies to Australia to pick up $1 million but has to leave with a one

per cent deposit - $10,000 -which naturally will be paid up front by the

businessman who would receive the $1 million when the guy returns from

Oz.

However, with no money in his pocket and no return ticket, he awaits

"funding" from overseas associates to pay his growing, unpaid guest house

tab.

How widespread is corruption and how hard will it be to stop it? The

scene last week at the now-defunct Agricultural & Commercial Bank of

Cambodia was a good example. Depositers were supposed to queue up outside the

gate so that the Liquidator could limit the number of those in the building to

no more than five at any one time and pay out claims in an orderly fashion.

But the humble gatekeeper was taking Riel 1,500 bribes to let people in

such that the crowd inside was over 20 and growing fast. And the humble former

employees of the bank were taking bribes through the teller windows to push

passbooks to the head of the line.

With the scene verging on chaos, the

harried Liquidator - unaware of the "market" forces at work - said enough was

enough. He shut his briefcase and threatened to walk out, ordering bank staff to

clear the room. There was a bit of a mini-Mexican stand-off, a lot of hemming

and hawing, and then when nothing happened (after all, how could bank staff

negotiate the re-payment of bribes in public - that might be embarrassing!) the

Liquidator shook his head and got back to work.

The Chinese usually speak

with one voice especially on issues as sensitive as the Khmer Rouge Trial. So

was the Sin Chew Daily's story on Sept 6 an indication of a major policy

shift?

The paper reported on Jinan University Chinese Language Institute

President Yang Song's visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum, quoting Ms Song as saying:

"There's a saying 'a life for a life; blood for blood'. An international court

should sternly punish them so that the innocent victims can have justice."

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