Man about town: 28 February 2014

Man about town: 28 February 2014

Friends, colleagues and sympathisers throughout the world are becoming increasingly distressed over the prolonged disappearance of Canadian expat, journalist Dave Walker, who simply vanished from his Siem Reap guesthouse on Valentine’s Day afternoon.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand this week, in an open letter, urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to push the investigation, and many people are pressing for answers from authorities. But the disappearance is a mystery and the definition of a mystery is “something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.”

With absolutely no light shed on the matter (at time of writing,) friends of Dave’s in Siem Reap are complaining that police aren’t doing enough, while conversely police suggested his friends weren’t as helpful as they could be.

Fear and suspicion of the integrity of local authorities obviously plays a hand.

But there has been a huge groundswell of activity by concerned people and Siem Reap businesses such as cafes to publicise Dave’s plight through the distribution and display of handbills and posters.

And of course, being the age of social networking, there’s been a tsunami of online activity, kicking off with Siem Reap provincial Immigration Police officer Yut Sinin posting a notice on a Siem Reap expat Facebook group. A Dave Walker Facebook page has been set up, as well as a website.

Much of the online activity has been activated by a long-time friend of Dave’s, Canadian resident and academic Peter Vronsky, who ironically is an authority on murder, having written two books on the history and psychopathology of serial killers.

He’s also been the main ‘go-to-guy’ in the Canadian media, and in a key Canadian article on February 19, CBC News reported that, “Vronsky said he is worried about key pieces of evidence friends and family have been unable to get access to, which could point searchers in the right direction.”

The news service quoted Vronsky saying, “The biggest thing we’re trying to figure out is what happened to Dave’s laptop and cellphone. We’re not sure where they are.”

But the reality is that the whereabouts of the laptop and cell phone have always been known – the laptop remained in Dave’s guesthouse room, and his phone was left on the charger in his guesthouse room.

CBC News added, “Vronsky is also worried that officials aren't expending enough energy looking into this case, that Walker's disappearance could be painted as just another middle-aged, white guy in southeast Asia ‘looking for love’…”

Such a ‘painting’ or description of Dave has certainly not been made by anyone in the region who knows him, and is certainly not the attitude of police and other officials, nor has it been since day one.

For its Cambodia component, CBC News quoted from the February 19 Phnom Penh Post piece co-written by the Siem Reap Bureau’s Khmer reporter Thik Kaliyann. But for some reason CBC News gratuitously upgraded Dave’s guesthouse to “upscale” which wasn’t a descriptive used in the original Post article and is certainly not accurate – but the “upscale” description was promptly picked up by other news outlets such as Huffington Post.

The intense online activity has seen the emergence of many sleuths with many theories, some interesting, some fevered and far-fetched, and there was even an attempt at wacky humor, viz: “This is my most optimistic albeit slightly delusional theory: Mistreated garment industry workers have ‘abducted/borrowed’ him spontaneously to shed light on their plight. (having gotten wind that he’s a respected journalist/filmmaker etc) Dave being a good sport decides to roll with it…onward!”

Let’s hope that if Dave is found alive, he finds that comment amusing. In the meantime anyone with meaningful information, please contact Yut Sinin, Siem Reap provincial Immigration Police officer on 097 933 3869, or Dave’s business partner and buddy Sonny Chhuon on 096 720 5219.


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