Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 16 August, 2002

The Gecko: 16 August, 2002

The Gecko: 16 August, 2002

Here's an idea for the Ministry of Agriculture to support that will create jobs

and provide income for farmers. Via the new bridge across the Mekong in Kampong Cham

vegetables and fruits imported from Vietnam are now coming in at a rate of about

100 metric tonnes per day, a lot of it destined for markets in Phnom Penh but also

distributed to provincial capitals. That works out to around 36,500,000 kilos of

produce per year, all of which, in theory, could be grown right here in the Kingdom.

Why not encourage Cambodian farmers to grow veggies?

One more slip-up on the PPPost 10-year Honor Roll. Here's to Darryl Collins for his

contribution to Tales from the Archives in Vol 9, Number 13 with the story about

Charlie Chaplin's visit to Cambodia.

The word on the streets is that the upcoming film called "The Tiger" to

be directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud has a budget of $110 million. Ouch! Scenes will

be shot in Siem Reap, Mondolkiri, and Phnom Penh, among other locales.

One of the regular pastimes for political pundits and the like in this fair city

is CPP watching. The latest buzz started back in June when snippets of less-than-intel

started circulating about a major pow-wow of the party's 21-member Standing Committee

where it was alleged that some kind of straw poll was taken that didn't have the

PM coming out on top. Was it a secret ballot on who should be the CPP's Prime Ministerial

candidate for next year's national elections? Was it a referendum on whether the

government's "poverty eradication" policies were working? Did a meeting

even take place?

"There was some talk between Hun Sen and a few Standing committee members,"

said one seasoned analyst. "Was it a talk among Hun Sen and Say Chum or was

it a talk among Hun Sen and others and then the information was passed on to Chea

Sim and Say Chum? Nobody knows for sure."

"There was a Standing Committee meeting," said one Western diplomat confidently.

"It took place on June 7. There was a secret ballot on who should be PM with

four candidates: Sar Kheng, Ke Kim Yan, Say Chum and the PM....and the next day there

were a whole lot of phone calls."

The diplomatic circuit was buzzing and suddenly, out of the blue, everybody was whispering

"Say Chum, Say Chum, watch Say Chum." So then everybody watched Say Chum

and, not suprisingly, nothing happened because Say Chum is a low-key, behind-the-scenes

kind of guy.

But somehow the story didn't end there. There was talk the PM was ready-once again-

to "break away" and start his own party, turning his informal Sok An-led

"Committee of Janaury 7" into something official. It was alleged that Sok

An had been put on stand-by, to gather resources for the big push. CPP watchers got

out their lists of key officials and started guessing on who would stick with the

boss: Ke Kim Yan-no; Tea Banh-yes; Sar Kheng-no; Kun Kim-yes; Pol Saroeun-probably

yes, especially as he has been playing golf with the PM more often lately. And the

grapevine even had the potential new party's name: Kanakpak Prampul Makara Maha Chupchey.

But will The January 7th Great Victory Party ever see the full light of day? No,

no, no say the pundits. This is all just a tactic to keep folks on their toes. We've

been down this road before.

However, with the CPP Congress delayed until January and the rumor mill abuzz there

may be a bit of jockeying up until year-end as all observers agree that the CPP will

go into the meeting with "all issues resolved".

"Basically, this is a question of a wider spread of perks from positions of

power," said the diplomat. "You don't think they are wrestling with ideology,

do you?"

And in the end when everyone was asked who they would bet money on to be the King-dom's

Prime Minister after next year's elections, the answers came rather easily and without

hesitation: Hun Sen.

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