Deja Vu and All Quiet on the Cambodian South-Eastern FrontOctober 2, 2006
The editor of this august E-zine phoned me the other morning from his weekend yurt in Sampov Meas village, Kompong Thom province; even over a Mobitel comms line I could smell the Bacardi Korma he was slurping for breakfast. “Playboy” he croaks through the early morning haze that is his mind “What has been happening in Phnom Penh this month?
What is the gossip, who in the ranks of the rich and shameless have been shafting each other, what shenanigans are afoot? Where did I leave my damned cravat?” Well, it has been a fairly quiet month of more of the same. I am sure that it came as no surprise to anyone when the rubberstamp Senate approved the two new laws that criminalise adultery and limiting political speeches.
We are currently taking odds in the new Khmer440 offices as to which party the first adultery lawsuit will be filed against; 2 to 1 FUNCINPEC, 5 to 1 SRP and 10,000 to 1 CPP…
Heng Pov is still on the lam, although Malasia has actually confirmed he is there somewhere and a few Khmer Generals have taken some papers, and a small picnic hamper no doubt, to KL. David Chen, his Australian lawyer (pah, a curse on the whole breed) is still not replying to Emails. We are still awaiting further revelations from Heng Pov regarding who did what to whom in his kiss and tell revelations. The Iron Man slapped a few more Royalist parliamentarians around and called for them to be fired, the Absentee Prince made a stop off in Cambodia for a while; just about long enough to complain, very quietly, about the treatment FUNCINPEC receives from the Government, before he remembered an urgent appointment several countries over, he hid out there for a while and rumour has it that he is actually back in the Country again.
The Iron Man launched another warning shot across the bow of the UN Human Rights report writing battalion (1st LandCruiser Brigade). Saying that they would be of better use in Baghdad, although he doubts that they would go there.
Not that it matters, they [the UN] pay a small fortune in rent on their multiple offices and building – not too mention all those villas its staff live in. One of the things I like most about the Iron Man is that he makes for great short copy and quotes, other classics from him this month were ‘if you fart, I will smell it’ along with his, ‘prepare your coffins’ warning to his critics; vintage Iron Man rhetoric there. His closing statement was even reminiscent of the oratories of the great Sir Winston Churchill, ‘I prefer to have a clever enemy than an ignorant friend, to have a stronger enemy than a weak friend.’ Outside the norm, we had the usual festivities of P’Chum Benn.
Phnom Penh was quiet as many people left the city to go to their hometowns to celebrate with their families. The roads were also quieter than usual, conversely, this turned out to be a problem in itself. With much less traffic to restrict speed and traffic flows we saw 23 dead and 117 injured in traffic accidents over the three day period (figures courtesy of Koh Santipeap). Away from the political arena, one interesting event last week was the launch of the new Yellow Pages (2007 edition) which was held in the main ballroom at Raffles Hotel, free beer and a constant flow of exceptionally good nibbles. Not usually what you would expect here, but they had obviously decided to push the boat out for this one.
As well as the Yellow Pages being there, so were 45 of their advertisers who had set up stalls and booths to promote their goods and services. The thing that appealed to me about this event was the fact that these were private sector businesses, mostly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Companies that, despite an environment here which is almost hostile to private investment, are trying to make it in Cambodia. Companies that employ people, create jobs, pay taxes.
A small group no doubt, but an encouraging display none the less. Let us hope that they can start to succeed where so many NGOs have failed. Businesses, profits, employment and taxes reduce poverty, not communes of one-legged bicycling lesbians with Chinese nose flutes weaving baskets halfway up a hill in Stung Treng.
The views in this column are entirely those of Lord Playboy (of Phnom Penh, Sonteipheap and that muddy patch of ground next to the school;) they are in no way are representative of Khmer440, its editors, staff or corn fed gimp, of any business or Ministry of the Royal Government of Cambodia who employs Lord Playboy, of strange smelling Spaniards in colonial bars, of anyone who considers eating rice three times a day normal, of the staff of certain NGOs who never, ever, leave Phnom Penh but always talk about the poor in Cambodia, or of a tiny blond haired male American midget who has pissed off a lot of people and lined up a lot of enemies, or of Saint Don Bosco. Damn, things will be different when I am running the Country