I would like to advise Cambodians and expatriates not to use the State of Cambodia
(SOC) Post Office in Phnom Penh or any provincial branch. Friends and family have
told me that letters arrive either opened or taped up, and several UNTAC staff members
have had the same happen to their mail. Some incoming mail is also opened.
When I first arrived in Cambodia six months ago, I used the Thai mail service of
Transindo because I had read in a guide book that mail sent via SOC's mail service
took up to three months to reach its destination. The U.N. pouch sometimes takes
several weeks, so I was not too keen on using that. One day, after having been greeted
by many exceptionally smiling SOC police officers, I thought I would check out what
SOC's stamps looked like. Stamp-collector friends of mine would probably appreciate
some samples, I thought. Thrilled by the colors and design of the stamps, I sent
off some postcards. Great was my surprise when I learned that the cards made it to
Europe and the U.S. in one or two weeks. Since then, I have naively sent most of
my mail from the Phnom Penh post office, and I have enjoyed the friendly service
of the staff and the small talk with other customers.
Those who prefer to keep personal mail personal will have to find other ways of reaching
their friends and family rather than through the mail, phone or fax service offered
by SOC. Knowing that Transindo charges more postage than the SOC post office and
does not accept riels, I would be happy to support Cambodians who need to send off
urgent mail they do not want to have scrutinized by the current authorities.
- Gry Tina Andersen, Assistant Electoral Officer, Kompong Speu