The Khmer Rouge have made a big deal about UNTAC showing up in areas they control
without getting permission first. One unlucky group of UNMOs and their Khmer translators
recently discovered one of the reasons why.
The UNMOs decided to pay an unannounced call on a local Khmer Rouge commander near
Kratie a few weeks ago. When they arrived the KR colonel was drunk as a skunk and
not a bit happy about the unexpected visit. He pulled out his pistol and shoved it
in the mouth of one of the UNTAC translators, threatening to kill the young lad along
with the rest of the group.
Fortunately, no one was injured and the UNMOs politely excused themselves. A complaint
was filed with the powers that be and, lo and behold, the KR commander-once he was
sober-submitted a written apology to UNTAC for some sloppy behavior above-and-beyond
the call of duty.
The Gecko has heard that Prince Sihanouk has another film in the works. Filming is
to be done in Beijing and Siem Reap for a new epic drama to be called "Au Revoir
Angkor, et Mourir" (Good-bye Angkor and Die). Don't expect a happy ending on
With all the hoopla over the establishment of so many new political parties the Gecko
hears that some of the diplomatic pundits in town are now concerned that many of
the parties will go bankrupt before the elections. Cambodia's first multi-party election
in several decades could see quite a few of the candidates weeded out before anyone
even goes to the polls.
UNTAC recently released a report entitled "Impact of UNTAC on Cambodia's Economy"
that includes what is hopefully a typo. The document states that "In the first
6 months, a further U.S. $3.7 million went to pay for rations of military personnel...and
only U.S. $0.2 (that's 20 cents for those readers who have trouble with decimal points)
was paid to local recruited staff."
This would be just a humorous gaffe except that as of a month ago many Khmer staff
hired by the U.N. hadn't been paid in over four months and electoral staff in the
field were dishing dollars out of their own pockets to keep their Khmer colleagues
from going hungry. Who knows-maybe 20 cents is the correct figure.
The guard at one of the two English-language papers in Phnom Penh got a case of the
jitters recently when several truckloads of rifle-toting Indonesians showed up. Turns
out they were just dropping by to mail some letters at the "Post Office."
The Gecko came across an UNTAC Situation Report dated Jan. 2 noting that the Civ
Pol Airport Team at Pochentong "monitored the departure of Prince Norodom Sihanouk
for Kompong Cham on board a special flight by Kampuchea Airlines," which is
interesting since the rest of the world has understood the prince to be in Beijing
for over a month.
The Japanese, always the wizards of the latest high-tech gear, are introducing a
few new tricks in Takeo. They've got a remote-controlled bulldozer buzzing around
their campsite keeping things on an even keel. If you see any other heavy equipment
cruising about minus a driver, don't be alarmed. UNTAC may be testing out new ways
to deal with the KR: by remote-control.
Finally, the Gecko has heard that one member of the Bulgarian contingent may have
won the dubious distinction of having contracted the most cases of venereal disease
of anyone in Cambodia during 1992. Fifteen so far and he's still going strong. The
UNTAC medics are keeping an eye out for him so that now when his sidekicks show up
(apparently the VD gold-medal winner has gotten a bit shy of doctors) asking for
more medication they are told to send the man in himself because the doctors would
like to have (another) word with him.