Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man About Town 14 Mar 2014



Man About Town 14 Mar 2014

Man About Town 14 Mar 2014

DAVE WALKER’S DISAPPEARANCE
The hunt for missing Siem Reap expat Dave Walker, a Canadian journalist and filmmaker, took a bizarre turn last Friday afternoon, when the call went out that a foreigner’s body had been found at Wat Krom.

Police and reporters rushed to the scene, as did Walker’s business partner Sonny Chhoun, who was advised to attend to identify the body if necessary.

But when all the parties congregated at Wat Krom, the word went out that the body couldn’t be found.

A quick investigation unearthed the truth: A radio station had broadcast that a body had been found at Wat Krom and a police informant figured that the Wat Krom in question was the Wat Krom just outside Siem Reap township, near Tonle Sap. But there is also a Wat Krom in Sihanoukville, and that’s where the body was found.

The incident must have been gut-wrenching for Walker’s business partner and mate, Sonny Chhoun. He’s been through the wringer in a number of ways. First there’s the emotional component – his best friend simply disappeared. Secondly, Chhoun was earmarked as a suspect from day one and given a hard time by police. Recently he spent several days in protective custody and subjected to long bouts of intensive questioning. He’s now being watched closely as there are also fears for his safety, given his knowledge of Dave Walker’s affairs.

Last week Canadian Interpol operatives reportedly scoured Walker’s computer looking for clues, and the investigation now seems to be centered on Walker’s business activities with members of the Khmer community, both here and in Canada in places such as Edmonton and Keswick.

A lawyer based in Phnom Penh has also been appointed.

Walker was in the process of raising $3.2 million for a movie he wanted to make and of late was believed to have asked for assurance that money that had been raised by Khmer contacts came from legitimate sources. Many believe that this venture is behind his disappearance, and investigators in both Canada and Cambodia are now following the money trail, also assessing whether money laundering was an issue.

POOL RULES RULE
The Siem Reap branch of Mad Monkey Hostels has achieved fame of sorts with its “Pool Rules” sign featuring on TripAdvisor. The rules have been posted to advise guests that the pool is too shallow for diving at the point where the notice is posted.

The notice adds, “A broken neck will seriously reduce the enjoyment of your vacation.

“If you dive into the pool from here you will be asked to leave instantly; we will also beat the crap out of you if you survive.

“If you die we will feed your remains to the cats. We will tell your parents that you were last seen shooting up heroin with hookers.”

FAKE ORPHAN FURORE
The battle against orphanage tourism continues and this week eTurboNews ran an article which said, “Cambodia's become the destination du jour for a different kind of package tour: ‘voluntourism’, which takes visitors away from their posh Siem Reap resorts and into orphanages and poor communities. There's an oversupply of suffering, and there's no shortage of tourists with good intentions (and charity dollars) to spare.”

The article added, “Between 2005 and 2010, the number of orphanages in Cambodia has increased by 75 percent: as of 2010, 11,945 children lived in 269 residential care facilities all over the kingdom. And yet many of these kids are not orphans; about 44 percent of the kids living in residential care were put there by their own parents or extended family. Almost three-quarters of these kids have one living parent.”

The article also points out that in Siem Reap, “apsara dances performed by ‘orphans’ are all the rage).”

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