There's interesting tidbits coming from the international observers in town for the
elections. With all due respect for the seriousness of their mission, one must note
that some of the jibes against them probably stem from a pique of jealousy. Its a
sort of "Hey, why can't we get a well-paid, short term contract and fly off
to some exotic, troubled land for a few weeks?" Anyway....
** One Australian observer, trying to get his bearings and put some context into
the job description, wanted to know if Australia was a member of ASEAN.
** A Mandarin speaker asked the head of the Chinese observer delegation "What's
your input in the final statement?"
With a look of panic, the man replied: "Statement? What statement? I don't think
we're doing that."
This could be one of those rare convergences of foreign policy between Beijing and
** Why did one Brit become an observer: "Well, I was just travelling around
and it seemed like a fun thing to do."
** The NDI/IRI observer teams have moved into Le Royal. Perhaps they wanted to get
a sense of Khmer history before heading off for the provinces.
** One JIOG observer tagged along with the Rainsy road show on a trip to Kampong
Cham and wanted to bring along an ethnic Vietnamese guy as his interpreter. An SRP
official said the observer was welcome at the rally but the Vietnamese guy wasn't.
The interpreter-less observer attended the meeting anyway but given the language
barrier the only thing he learned about was racism.
** The JIOG translators and drivers held a brief stop-work demo because they hadn't
been paid. They refused to leave Phnom Penh for the provinces.
"I don't know about that," said one foreign official. "You know, even
I haven't been paid yet... but I guess I can handle that."
** Nate Thayer is back in town. He says he is now marketing a new line of hair care
products. He also wants the word to get out that he would like to get back on the
A-list for invitations to cocktail parties.
** Check out the latest hair cut on Ron Moreau of Newsweek and use your imagination.
When he had a crew cut and used butch wax in the '50s, did he look cool or what?
** A diplomat musing aloud to a journalist: "So, if Funcinpec and Rainsy win
two-thirds of the seats what's the headline going to be: 'CPP bad at intimidation'?"
** Anyone who thinks they know how the vote will turn out has a chance to clean up
at the FCCC. Tony is organizing a pool for $5 a pop/winner take all.
** The election story has been so quiet that the most excitement Matt Lee from AFP
has witnessed was when he got locked out of his house, had to sleep in his car and
was abruptly woken up when his radiator exploded.
** A German journalist lost his belly pack with his passport and $2,000 in it. He
checked with the front desk at the hotel he was staying at and they said that they
had found it at their in-house casino. However, the cash was gone and the management
said "not our problem" as the casino was a different company.
** One long-time Cambodia watcher says the inside word is that if the CPP controls
enough seats to form a new government Kun Kim will replace Ke Kim Yan, Hok Lundy
will become head of a new Ministry of National Security, Sok An will become Minister
of Interior with Chea Sophara and Sao Soka under him.
** Tum Sambol, Prince Ranariddh's former military adviser who had a quick change
of heart after last July, was seen in Bangkok last week. He was evacuating his family
out of Cambodia "just in case".
** Ears are all a twitter over the drag party that took place last month. Inquiring
minds are eager to know who showed up dressed like Esther Williams and who were the
boys kitted out like Victorian tea ladies.
** Quote of the week is attributed to the well-known democrat Joseph Stalin: "It's
not important how they vote. It's more important who counts."
** Seth Vannareth, deputy director of the Department of Meterology, predicts scattered
thundershowers on election day. "I don't expect any flooding, but I do advise
people to carry an umbrella," she said.