In your June 4 edition you correctly reported ("Virtual Global-PAC keeps feet
on ground in Sihanoukville") that, representing Global-Pac, I had indeed visited
the Starfish Project in March in spite of denials that anyone in Starfish had even
"heard of" Global-Pac.
Mr Will Capel (Post, June 18, "Starfish on Global-PAC") appears to have
now had a "total recall" experience which is so far at variance with what
actually took place it has all the extreme literary licence one would expect in a
novel. The truth in true slick willy style, is treated like selections from an
a la carte menu, including adding a few items that were never there for good measure.
Firstly, there was no "lecture" nor any pretence on my part about being fully
in the know about what was happening in Sihanoukville. On the contrary the whole
purpose of the meeting was one of fact finding to avoid any meaningless duplication
of efforts or "turf" wars, should Global-Pac decide to become involved
either in projects of its own, or in the funding of existing projects such as the
one in which Starfish is engaged. Mr Capel was very proud to speak at length
about his claimed achievements and those of other staff members in the project
in response to my questions.
Secondly, Mr Capel asked only two questions about Global-Pac, namely who had suggested
I talk to him [as noted earlier a senior diplomat] and, at the end, "and who,
or what is Global-Pac anyway?" to which there were no follow up questions to
my reply because he was evidently satisfied and wanted to get the interview over
with as his friend was waiting. The only response to a question I asked of him
which might have been considered evasive was my query regarding organized pedophile
rings operating in Sihanoukville, to which he responded he was sure that there were
but couldn't prove it.
Personally, after more than seven weeks in Sihanoukville in total, I have yet to
be convinced that there are major international pedophile rings actively
organizing sex tours to Sihanoukville. There is obviously some opportunistic
pedophile activity involving foreigners but for the most part, foreigners, either
here for the longer term or visiting, appear to be well-behaved. Suggestions to the
contrary may be helpful in the short term to secure funding but in the end we are
all better served by confining ourselves to facts, rather than unscrupulous "scaremongering"
and that is exactly what reports prepared will say.
Thirdly, it is ridiculous to suggest that Global-Pac's offering and granting of limited
material assistance to the police was anything less than welcome and appropriate. It
is completely false for Mr Capel to claim that he was the origin of these ideas in
our March discussion. The ideas in part came from a diplomatic source earlier than
March and were then developed further and finally implemented in May because
no other organization had "put their money where they claimed their mouths were"
so to speak, or were actively working on similar plans.
For a meeting with me that he originally had forgotten took place, Mr Capel
has since had some very creative and self-serving recollections, that seek to "demonize"
Global-Pac as a possible competitor for both ideas and actions.
I have no similar desire for reasons of "turf wars" or otherwise, to disparage
the work of others, or to claim a monopoly on worthwhile ideas. The project in which
Starfish and many others in Sihanoukville is engaged is a very worthwhile one. The
gifts to the anti-trafficking police were also worthwhile and both deserve
recognition for that. Engaging in a small-minded and self-serving turf
war to put other contributors down, or to demonize them, should not be
allowed to detract from the constructive efforts of many diverse groups who
can assist with the very real problems of child-exploitation, wherever they occur.
Gerald Thorns, for Global-Pac - Sihanoukville