Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man about town: 07 March 2014




Man about town: 07 March 2014

Man about town: 07 March 2014

DAVE WALKER DISAPPEARANCE UPDATE
The hunt for missing Siem Reap expat and journalist, Canadian-born Dave Walker, has intensified due to pressure from on high, and the investigation has turned into a truly international manhunt involving Cambodian police, especially the military police in Siem Reap, Canadian cops, Interpol and the Australian Federal Police, among others.

Plus a host of private investigators and prominent international journalists based in the US and Bangkok, have been raking over the coals trying to find clues – but to date no answers. There has also been criticism that the activity of some of the journalists involved have been “a source of division in the effort to find Dave.”

In the past week there was heady anticipation that a strong lead to solving the case had emerged in Dave’s hometown of Edmonton, Canada, and according to private reports, police interest was heavy since Saturday with “half the Cambodian community” there woken by phone calls from Cambodian police. Interest apparently was shown in particular to inhabitants of a house.

That lead seems to have petered out, but may emerge again in relevance.

Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and, according to Multicultural Canada, of the 18,615 persons claiming Cambodian ethnicity in the 1991 Canadian census, 2,000 lived in Edmonton, where there is a Buddhist temple.

At least one of Dave Walker’s Khmer friends in Siem Reap has connections to Khmer people in Edmonton, and a house belonging to one of these was checked as part of the investigation.

The thrust of the investigation has now returned, probably quite rightly, to Siem Reap, and in an intensified atmosphere the police are concentrating much of their investigation on interviewing and re-interviewing Khmers who were closely associated with Dave. It is believed that one associate has been placed under protective custody to shelter him from possible repercussion and to glean more knowledge about what went down.

Let’s hope there’s a breakthrough in the offing.

GUNPLAY GETS THE BULLET
Armed celebrities, police and senior government officials seem to have been tamed, in Siem Reap at least, as there hasn’t been an outburst of out-of-control gunplay in town for almost 18 months.

Or at least none that have come to public attention.

Perhaps this is the result of a September 20, 2012 edict by PM Hun Sen, stating that powerful officials and their friends and families were not to fire or wield their weapons in restaurants and other public places, especially those haunts frequented by foreigners.

The PM’s edict was tested in town a little over a week later, when the then Preah Vihear provincial police chief Mao Pov was “accused” of illegally shooting after he opened fire and shot five times at the Lok Yen Hotel and Restaurant on National Road 6 on Sunday night, September 30.

Perhaps the most infamous incident of reckless gunplay in Siem Reap in recent times was at the Zone One nightclub on the evening of October 11, 2008, when popular singer Tit Vichka let fly with a few rounds after he crashed his car in the club’s car park and argued with a security guard.

On that night, Tit Vichka, who had a permit to carry a gun, and Ing Rotha, went to the nightclub to see Ou Bunarath and Sok Chanthida perform. According to witnesses, Tit Vichka crashed into another car in the club’s car park, attracting a crowd of people and causing a security guard to shut the door to the club.

Tit Vichka then began an argument with the security guard, and fired his gun several times into the air out of anger.

When Tit Vichka appeared in court on January 21, 2009 to give a statement, he claimed he fired into the air out of self-defense after a group of young men surrounded him.

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