News from the Pailin DNUM Free State. A Secretary of State from Phnom
Penh was in Pailin two weeks ago and ran into some journalists who asked if they
could interview him on a range of issues. The Excellency said "Sure, sure. Meet
me at lunch at such-and-such restaurant." The journos went there but found no
one. They poked around town and found the man at another restaurant where he was
having a big feed with a number of senior DNUM officials. The Excellency greeted
the journos but semed a bit embarassed. He whispered, "Please, please. You must
understand. I can't talk to you without the permission from the authorities here.
See you in Phnom Penh."
** A man at the Pailin pagoda was friendly enough and willing to talk. When
asked his name he replied "Oxygen". What? "Yeah, sure. I was lucky.
When I was born premature in 1970 I was put in an incubator and survived, so my parents
named me Oxygen." So, how do you spell that, by the way? "Simple,"
he replies. "O-two!"
** Shutterbugs be warned. The authorities at the new Parkway shopping mall
are a bit camera shy. Its hard to figure out why. The ediface will no doubt go down
in the annals of architectural history as one of the wonders of the modern world.
No matter. One recent visitor who wanted to snap the building was immediately pounced
on roughly by one of the guards and dragged to the head office for a tongue lashing.
** Armchair pundits are wondering when the news will break that Ta Mok committed
suicide. "Er, um. We found him in his cell after he shot himself in the back
twice." Quipped one KR expert: "I'd sure want to have my own food taster
if I were him."
** For the record, when fancy becomes fact: Scholars say that Ta Mok's nickname
"The Butcher" was made up by journalists, probably in the 1980s. So all
the reams of news copy of late which read "known as the Butcher" is basically
stuff just pulled out of some other reporter's story. Most Khmers have never heard
of it, except from Western news stories.
In his home district in Takeo, he's still known as Achar Mok. As one scholar told
the Post, "In Khmer, you can either be a 'mass murderer' or a 'man who cuts
meat'. You can't be both."
If any expat reporters took the time to go out and ask a Cambodian they might find
out, but that would require work. Then again, why ruin a good headline?