2016 – The Khmer440 year in reviewDecember 30, 2016
2016 has been a hell of a year, with the underdog, the anti-establishment figures and the disaffected finding themselves the people’s champions.
Whether it was Leicester City winning the EPL, or the Chicago Cubs winning something in American cricket, or plucky Scotsman Andy Murray winning Olympic gold and #tennisplayerofourhearts, sporting history books were rewritten during the year. 2016 also ushered in a shakeup in politics – angry, over 50, British white van men turned up in droves to reclaim sovereignty for ’Queen country’ and stuck a defiant two-finger salute out to the Krauts and Clogs, Wops and Frogs who have been dictating the rules from bureaucratic Brussels for too long.
In ASEAN, the country best known for exporting nannies, budget English teachers, sex workers and God botherers voted in a homicidal maniac who threatened to kill 100,000 drug users and throw them into the sea, a policy he subsequently began in great earnest. He also called POTUS a ‘son of a whore’, and offered all his sea, nannies, budget English teachers, sex workers and God botherers to once mortal enemy China, just to piss off the Yanks.
Over in the free world, the good citizens of ‘Merca elected a shouty billionaire off the telly with tiny hands and a ferret glued on his head to lead the ‘greatest country in the world’ and, paradoxically, make it ‘great again’.
The world lost countless greats from the world of sport, stage, screen and music, and Cambodia lost the biggest number of of foreigner deaths on record this year, with 161 fatalities at the rime of writing. There was definitely something in the water and the drugs. Even over on the SHK based tribute site there was a couple of thought provoking threads that weren’t hijacked by angry, gun toting ‘mercans and ‘strayan bush racists. (No, not really, it’s even worse than 2015).
Meanwhile, Cambodia provided a haven for those with an aversion to change in a crazy, chaotic world. The Kingdom soldiered along, doing pretty much what it did last year, but with perhaps a little more ghusto. The same political players danced the same political moves, those at the top came out with some cringeworthy quotes, expats behaved badly with plenty departing to the great girly bar in the sky, and bizarre stories came out across various media outlets.
So allow K440 to take you on a journey back through the last 12 months to remind you what you have forgotten, or weren’t interested in first time round.
In late December 2015 the big man of Cambodia used one of his infamous graduation rants/speeches to promise bemused students that he would cut off his right hand before pardoning pantomime clown Sam Rainsy one more time. The court summons for the Rainman was set for January 4 but, predictably as ever, the leader of the opposition decided to bunker down in his comfortable Parisian abode, rather than Prey Sar.
The first dead white man of the year award went to 73 year old American James R Croy, pushing up the average age stats and an early lead from team Shitsville. Sihanoukville punched over its weight for much of the year in the race be the home for most foreign fatalities and led for much of the year, only for Phnom Penh to stage a late rally and pip the most beautiful bay in the world to second place in the RIP races.
If you have ever seen any of the Final Destination movies, you’ll know that you can’t cheat death – when the Grym Reaper comes a’ knocking, it’s time. Sadly a popular singer, Vann Makara found this out on National Road 4, when his car was involved in an accident. Escaping the accident at Pich Nil with minor injuries, the crooner got into an ambulance for treatment in Phnom Penh. Which crashed and killed him.
The obligatory perp shot competition of banged up barangs had a strong early contender with Swiss man-boob-tattooed Daniel Andersen picked up in Shitsville for being off his nut, causing traffic accidents, wearing fisherman pants and that ink work, obviously.
Khmer girlfriends got their stab on in 2016, the first incident being a British English teacher, Christopher Heath getting a knife in the chest from his beloved in their shared PP rented room.
The complex issue of cybercrime has not gone unnoticed in the Kingdom of Wonder, with INTERPOL being requested to track down a rogue Photoshop agent who maliciously manipulated a snap of the Strongman and First Family’s beach break by moving FLOTKOW’s leg a little bit to give her a John Wayne stance.
INTERPOL were, however involved in the tracking down of an appalling, very wealthy and well-connected Belgian child sex offender, Peter Ceulen. In January an appeal went out for the whereabouts of this odious creature after he was convicted in Europe but had done a runner, with Khmer440 leading the charge. It soon became apparent that he was in Cambodia where he and his family owned several luxury properties and businesses. After a cat and mouse game lasting two months, Ceulen eventually handed himself in in March, having eluded justice thanks to friends and family helping him – nobody has yet been charged with aiding and abetting his run from justice – go figure. The 60 year old will face 19 years + in the slammer and hopefully never be a free man again after his horrific crimes which don’t bear repeating on this page.
The Chinese are well known for liking a flutter, but in February a former accountant of CETIC International Hydropower Development Co. Ltd, Mr. Chen Chun Lin, 49, was up in the dock and sentenced to a four and a half year stretch after embezzling almost $2 million from his employers and blowing the lot down at the casino. Somehow, during his time in the big house, the down-0n-his-luck crapshooter must pay back the full amount to the company, which is building a hydro-electric power plant in Koh Kong, and stump up an extra $50k in compensation. Perhaps through a behind bars roulette table for high-rolling lags?
A flying Dutchman hit the headlines when a routine drunk driving stop turned into a reenactment of the great escape from Stalag Luft III. Niel Heco Comelis Van Klooster was stopped by the competent authorities on suspicion of being on the pop when in charge of a vehicle. His result of 0.94mg alcohol was enough for him to spend a night in the cop shop, but the intrepid cloggie was having none of it and smashed a hole in the ceiling from where he tried to make his escape. The ceiling collapsed under his weight and the absconder plummeted to earth, injuring a few other detainees. Even with a sprained ankle the Country Manager at Everjobs Cambodia continued to make an arse of himself by trying to kick the door in. After a tense night he was taken to the municipal court, where he was released on ‘bail’ after ‘apologizing’ and promising that his family in Windmilland will pick up the tab. No doubt a serious wedge of cash was exchanged under the table.
Ratanakiri had a very special VIP guest in the form of Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The question one always asks is when such dignitaries arrive, where will the royal penny be spent? Fortunately the Cambodian hosts thought ahead about this problem and installed a $40,000 shitehouse on the banks of the lake HRH was about to visit. Sadly the princess didn’t feel the urge to use the overpriced khazi, for a number one or number 2, and the luxurious lavvy was removed as soon as she flew off in her helicopter.
In an unusual twist to a murder conviction, a supposed victim turned up 4 years after he was supposedly stabbed to death in Koh Kong. Rumours of Mak Chien’s death were proved to be exaggerated when he arrived back in his home village after a long spell of working in Thailand. His family’s reported response; ‘Oh you’re still alive, we thought it was you’ Despite the dead man walking pleading with judges to release his supposed killers. the word from the top cop brass stated ‘If they’re not guilty of killing him, then they’re guilty of killing somebody’. Touché.
February is always the month where some media outlet somewhere else will roll out the same headline used for the past umpteen years, along the lines of ‘Cambodia-Where Valentine’s Day is the most Rapey Day of the Year’, again. This year it was the turn of the Washington Post. However, trawling back through a years’ worth of news story, it’s a sad fact that rape and/or murders are far too common in Cambodia, not just on the 14th Feb.
A well-known Celtic barkeep was thrown in a Swedish slammer over February and March for smuggling a few happy pills, easily purchased over the counter from any Cambodian chemist, yet severely looked down upon by Nordic customs officials. All’s well that ends well, however, as he finally made his way back to the kingdom for a few beers and a story to tell. Just as well because the Notorious Daun Penh Boys were chomping at the bit to take down a few posters who dared make some comments on the whole misadventure, with at least two of them turning up at a Street 172 hostelry, swinging a baseball bat, and looking for ‘the bastard owner of K440.’ He wasn’t there, but that didn’t stop them heading off to Street 51, getting more drunk. Inevitably, one of them ending up battered and bloodied after the inevitable contratemps with a tuk tuk driver.
Cocaine and smartphones rivalled heroin and methamphetamine as the smugglerss contraband of choice in 2016. There were cases of Koreans with suitcases full of Samsungs and Bolivian marching powder swallowed, hidden in baggage, stuffed up a chuff, and in March a Thai woman was busted with 2.5 kilos of the devil’s dandruff cunningly disguised as Werther’s Originals. Luckily, according to Neak Yuthea, a deputy general at the National Authority for Combating Drugs, “We don’t have consumers of coke in Cambodia; construction labourers could not afford it, If there are such cases of coke use in Cambodia, it is foreigners.” He then went on to wipe his nose and offer the Cambodian Daily hack “a cheeky line of the good stuff”
The political panto season began in March with a scandal involving a purdy young vixen, a bunch of ADHOC workers and CNRP #2 ‘Dirty Ol’ Kem Sokha. After some recorded heavy breathing conversations between the young lady and the randy old goat, it was decided that a major crime had been committed. Sokha retreated to CNRP HQ, 5 ADHOC staff were detained in Prey Sar and the temptress was dragged over the coals. Then in came CNRP ‘darling’ Thy Sovantha, pissed off that her name came up in the late night booty calls and demanded $1 million in compensation. It did get weirder…..
CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An didn’t quite get the homecoming he was expecting when returning back to the kingdom after an extended stay in the US, where he holds dual citizenship. Instead of celebrating Khmer New Year in Siem Reap, Mr. Um was lifted in the early hours and detained over comments regarding the Viet-Khmer border issues. He remains in custody, where he remarked it was safer than outside, following the killing of Dr. Ken Ley in July.
A former opposition defector to the ruling party was knocked of his perch as the ambassador to South Korea in April. Suth Dina was allegedly found to be in possession of 2.7 kilograms of gold and $7.2 million cash by the ACU. With that much loot lying about the house, Dina could benefit from plans laid out in March by interior minister Sar Kheng to build a privately run VIP prison for wealthy jailbirds, to ease Cambodia’s prison overcrowding problems. Add a KTV and massage services and Kem Sokha might have been temped out of his bunker.
In something which could be seen as a badly timed April fool’s hoax, the chief government graft fighter at the Anti-Corruption Unit decided to keep it in the family by appointing his own two sons to high ranking roles within the institution. But it was not nepotism, said spokesman Sok Eysan “It is normal. The CPP is the ruling party and has never appointed the children of the CNRP,” he said. “The CPP must appoint the youth of the CPP because we cannot appoint the youth of another party.” He went on to add “It is not nepotism,” he said. “It can only be nepotism if the people who are appointed have no knowledge. But [Mr. Yentieng’s sons] have the ability to do the work.” Well that’s that settled then.
Another case of the April lady doth protest too much was former poster sniper_m4, otherwise known as Eric Erdman(n). The story of his arrest as a fugitive kiddy porn enthusiast broke in the papers, he posted on k440 claiming his innocence, poster GavinMac once again turned into a less butch Jessica Fletcher and the truth was out; as was Erdman(n), on a plane to Florida and probation in his parents’ spare room.
By the end of April the new passenger train service was operational from PP-SHK. There have only been a few accidents with motor vehicles, several pedestrian fatalities and one derailment, so far.
In May loads of stuff happened, but none of it that special: lots of foreigners died, some Nigerians were busted with more cocaine, overstayers were rounded up and pictured like huddled masses in a UKIP campaign poster, some hackers got into the Prime Minister’s webpage, Koh Rong speed ferry pier went up in flames and it was really, really hot.
The bar scene in PP was delivered a blow with the passing of “Big” Mike Hsu, from Sharky Bar. In true rock n’ roll fashion he exited on the premises and was given a good send off, as were most of the bar staff shortly afterwards. RIP.
K440 drew the ire of a pink haired Australian do-gooder in this month, with as much Twitter rantings from a certain Lucy Perry, as those of President Elect, Donald J Trump. A ‘poverty porn’ fundraising campaign by Sunrise NGO (even though their accounts stand at a cool 3 mill in the red) drew widespread criticism from Cambodian expats and numerous other NGOs, and the foul mouthed tirades from Ms. Perry did little more than pour petrol on the fire. What her big boss, the formidable Geraldine Cox, felt about it all is unclear, but the anarcho-neo-punk band, Chumbawamba named their debut album 30 years earlier ‘Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records’. Nuff said.
The country didn’t exactly mourn the passing of an infamous gunslinger and Cambodian business magnate Teang Bun Ma in June. There were rumours from those the author knows personally that his dying wish was a pre-selected $30k coffin.
Another tycoon in the news was Sung Bonna (not the lead singer of U2), who was thrown in the slammer for writing a $400k rubber cheque. The eponymous realty group promised to soldier on without their chairman at the helm.
A bizarre cross border failed escape was picked up from Stickboy, also in June. To quote directly:
“A Frenchman who allegedly owes a few million baht in gambling debts to a Cambodian moneylender was arrested by immigration officers over the weekend for illegally entering Thailand. The story of how 32-year-old Andre Moriconi ended up behind bars at Klong Luk police station in Aranyaprathet is told several ways depending on which Thai newspaper you read but the ending in all is the same. Moriconi went to Cambodia, racked up a few mil in gambling debts, was sleeping in a bus shelter when he couldn’t flog his watch to pay his hotel bill and ended up doing a runner when the people he owed money to came calling looking for him to settle up. When he arrived at the border crossing in a panic, the officer noticed he didn’t have any entry or exit stamps for Cambodia and told him he’d need to go back and get them before he could enter Thailand. Frenchie said this was not possible as he was a wanted man and after speaking with several officers he tried to make a run for it without getting stamped into the country, a move that didn’t get him very far. When he was apprehended Moriconi was taken to the cop shop and charged with illegally entering the country. The embassy were called but there was no help available as it was the weekend so he was sent to the cells where he was said to have been wailing and crying, “I want to go back to France”.”
In positive news Cambodia was named The World’s Best Tourism Destination by European Council of Tourism and Trade – membership of The Beautiful Bays club finally paying off.
It was a year of leaking, as we have seen, and the NGO community was not immune. Maltese president of Drama Outreach Program, Alan Montanaro was found to be sending WhatsApp messages suggesting that a child Meng (El Mingo) should have his corneas harvested and described other kids under his care as “Window washers or kidney-donors the lot of them”. We’ve all been there.
Somebody who managed to hold onto their career with just a demotion was senior Education Ministry official Kry Seang Long, who was arrested in South Korea after getting frisky with his female interpreter. The ministry coughed up $12k bail to get the gropey geezer out of Seoul confinement, which he promised to pay back. His lenient punishment was, according to Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron because ‘Not serious. Not rape’. Germaine Greer would be reaching for the burdizzo, if only she knew.
Another barang looking for new employment opportunities was Beltie teacher ‘Carl’ who had one thing or another too many and was caught being hosed down, without his hosen on, along Street 182. Judging by the images the lack of leg covering was due to the fact that the erstwhile educator had managed to shit himself somewhere and disposed of the evidence.
Khmer440 was instrumental in sending another wrong un back home to face the music. Convicted British paedo Damian Midgley was flagged up by a poster sayonara2 in July. His photo was recognized by a reader in Siem Reap who approached the competent authorities who made the move to arrest him on Pub St. Deportation and a six+ stretch at Her Majesty’s Pleasure beckoned.
After a failed coup in Turkey, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia requested that the Royal Government close down the Zaman International School in Phnom Penh, on the basis all Zaman instititions have close ties with the alleged mastermind behind the coup attempt. The reply from MoEYS has not been leaked but probably something like ‘Erm, cannot do, busy, where you get this number?’ before hanging up the phone.
The often farcical world of Cambodian politics took another of its regular dark turns in July, with the assassination of well-known and respected political activist Dr. Kem Ley in his regular Star Mart coffee joint. The killer was swiftly apprehended, albeit in murky circumstances and, as usual, the motives seem shaky and rumours of bigger fish are never far from the surface.
Some point to Dr. Ley’s involvement in a Global Witness report, released shortly before his killing, which exposed how much the business practices of a certain Cambodian family have made* and a glimpse into how deep the rabbit hole goes**.
*Clue – a lot
**Very far. Wanting to keep our heads, however, it is suggested you Google it, if you didn’t catch it first time round.
July was also the month that produced the Khmer440 picture of the year (above): that of the oldest meth-dealer in the world, Michael Ryan, being led to the slammer after receiving a two year term following his earlier arrest on Street 51.
The plagiaristic Khmer Times somehow struggles on after last year’s cut n’ paste editorials from ‘Phony’ Tony. In 2016 another editor, Terry Friel got cut n’ pasted himself, when his pretty young thing got the hump and turned stabby. The gossip mill claims it was all about a $2000 debt the Australian Ex-Editor-in-Chief borrowed from honey and fuelled her ire when he couldn’t pay back the money. Hell hath no fury like a unpaid bargirl.
Khmer440 got immortalized in print (well Amazon for Kindle) with a work of literature from former resident and onetime blogger Rob Jamieson; Killing Time in Phnom Penh. The infamous Garage Bar hostage crisis features in the work, which is still probably available to download, if you can be bothered to search for it.
Another Cambodian face(book)palm moment also came in August, when 50 failing medical students wrote to the PM personally begging for him to pass them after flunking clinical examination tests. Luckily the aptly named Dr. Quach tried to put a stop to it.
The Black Monday protest movement limped along throughout 2016, but the detention and deportation of Spanish activist and researcher Maja Bujosa Segado certainly got the attention of the international news. Bujosa Segado, who claims to have been beaten in custody, was feared to have supernatural powers by the competent authorities. Major General Heisela of the boys in khaki was quoted as saying police officers were worried when she started taking photos of them.
“We were worried she might be a sorcerer and then take photos to do black magic on our stomachs,” he said. “Everyone knows the Spanish practice magic,” he added. “They can fly on brooms.”
What has become known as the Streisand effect has swept the internet in recent times. The more a person tries to bury bad things online, the more attention said bad things get from the internet. The tragic case of Nicolas Plessis, a 36 year old French hotelier, who died after just 4 days in the Kingdom, from an apparent drug binge, got the SE into a full roll. A certain Jasper Overgaard Waale who runs a business specialising in helping companies take down pesky internet attention hounded Khmer440 owners, moderators, ex-moderators, the server hosts and even advertisers on Khmer440 to remove the story, succeeding only in driving it back up, and giving it a mention in this review, when 150+ other deaths have not been given a mention. Try getting us to take this pic down also Jasper . . .
Cambodia is well known as a nutter magnet, indeed that is why so many of us are here, but it takes a special type of nutter to go up against the mighty K440 cabal. Remember Gregory Michael Blake from 2015? Now a successful pig farmer, I’m told . . . . . However, September saw a man nuttier than a squirrels lunch, in the form of Peter David. So incensed was this wannabe lawyer/failed restaurateur from the City of the Pineapple Roundabout that he started making some bizarre threats to the owners of the website over social media. Quote:
“This is a problem that needs to be addressed by all Governments in Australia and in Cambodia. I can name one in Cambodia called Khmer 440 run ironically by expat Barangs. Their forums have trolls that hide behind assumed names and vilify defame, tell lies, hate, and abusive trolls, against the person, public, or Government of Cambodia and get away with this criminal behaviour, as the National Intelligence agency either does know about this site, or has not bothered to investigate these bad Expat people and close this forum down as it only promotes nothing but troll rubbish that influence the public the wrong way. In Kalgoorlie these racist trolls caused a riot.” [Sic]
Another gem: “They should do the same to Khmer 440 here in Cambodia Charge them for their posts by trolls causing trouble defaming people and hiding behind false names. Please investigate Your Excellency Hun Manith head of National Intelligence. This story of what can happen when the Administrators of the site support and promote Facebook sites that troll people. No Good comes from these sites just stirring up problems and promoting hate and untruths and willfully and criminally defaming people.Please take action against this site in Cambodia called Khmer 440 run by Expat Westerners.” [Sic]
It wouldn’t be the first time Khmer440 was threatened with being reported to high ranking Government officials in 2016. More of which follows.
Another month and more charlie, this time courtesy of 22 year old Adelys Paola Lopez Alviarez of Venezuala was caught with almost 1.5kg of the stuff after flying in from Brazil via Ethiopia. Somebody’s stash got fatter and the guards on the lady’s wing just found a new playmate. Just say no. Another marching powder mule was apprehended shortly after. South African Jacobus Botha, was busted en route from Brazil with a belly full of blow. We learned now that Ponchentong airport has a fancy body scanner, like the ones on TV. Customs officials plan to wear sunglasses at night party like its 1999.
Transparency International released the Corruption Index 2015 in September. The Kingdom still remains strong contenders as 150/168- the 18th most corrupt country in the world, a position where Mexico find themselves on the FIFA rankings.
Kem Sokha briefly left his bunker in October for his voter registration. Sam Rainsy stayed in Paris. Meanwhile, social media darling, CNRP activist-turned-Kem Sokha-suer-agent provocateur-puppet-on-a-string Thy Sovantha decided she needed more publicity this month by declaring her intentions to open a university, despite the fact she didn’t have a degree herself.
A regular on the pages of k440 for bad behavior was back up again in October. British expat Andrew Wallace, convicted human trafficker and a member of the infamous Tatai Resort brigade ran down and killed a student motorcyclist in PP whilst heavily pissed. He must have friends in high places (or a healthy bank balance) as he was released after questioning and seen on the pop at the opening party for Hops Brewery later the same week. Now if Mr. Wallace could just get that Hooters fixed up….
The Russian mafia story of the year has to go to go to good ol’ Shihanouskygrad after masked thugs, named as ‘Vladimir from Lotus Travel’ and his mob attacked expats Joel Fry and Mike Keys with baseball bats, totally merking up Fry’s knee. This is the result of some jive talk and beef stretching back 2 years to the failed Kazantip festival. Thoooose Russians….
A former Phnom Penh-based Scottish TEFLER got his stab on over in Myanmar in November. Harris Binotti is currently being sought after his colleague, another Brit, Gary Ferguson, was found dead after a night on the town together. Binotti, a former teacher at Western, fled to Thailand and hasn’t been seen since.
An Australian baby famer was arrested under a new crackdown of a grey legal area. Tammy Davis-Charles had moved her surrogacy business over the border from Thailand after the Land of Smiles outlawed such practices in 2014. Although the laws on surrogacy, like so many in Cambodia, are murky Ms. Davis-Charles is also accused of falsifying legal documents such as birth certificates, which could lead her into a sea of deep shit. But charging $50k a sprog, she should have enough in the piggy bank to donate to the competent authorities.
As 2016 drew towards its final curtain call, yet another high profile Brit was caught out behaving badly, and that Streisand effect came out again. David Tibbott, the chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia was allegedly spotted by numerous witnesses throwing some punches in popular late night drinking spot Pontoon. The Phnom Penh wheel came full circle when an ex-Aussie Rules footballer named Steve Morrish (also immortalized in a chapter of R. Jamieson’s novel) and no stranger to Khmer440 came to the aid of the certain rugger bugger. Needless to say, the threats of ministries and government officials fell on deaf ears (and blind eyes), the story remains up and rumours that other members of Her Majesty’s representatives in the kingdom are not exactly amused by tales of booze fuelled brawling persist. There are grumbles within Britcham that Mr Morrish’s attempts to ‘deal with the story’ caused more harm than good.
Someone who almost got away with it (if it wasn’t for the pesky internet) was Chinese national and Deputy MD of Huawei (Cambodia and Laos) Kevin Weng. Mr. Weng was arrested by cops after drunkenly totalling a few tuk-tuks and his BMW i8 in the capital. Although local news was all over the story like a bad case of herpes, one by one the reports ‘disappeared’ from the Khmer public domain. Interestingly, the owner of the 3rd most popular expat forum in Cambodia (after k440 and livingincambodia), Daniel Mackevili claimed in the Cambodia Daily that he was offered a princely $100 to drop the story. This ‘gift’ was not extended to scobienz, who, to be fair, could do with it, as the legal defence fees against a nutty fake lawyer, a punchy businessman and the friend of a dead French meth user are spiralling out of control.
Shit hit the fan in late November for social media, side-switching darling Thy Sovantha after leaked details of intimate conversations between her, Maj. Gen. HE Jr, and the big man himself promising the daft little starlet rather a lot of zeros to her bank account. As rumours began to circulate over the facts, a juicy one being of a love triangle between a certain Facebook user, a certain tycoon and a certain army bigwig an amazing thing happened . . . . Kem Sokha was suddenly given a royal pardon on December 2. The 4 ADHOC staff and 1 CNRP official also imprisoned on bribery charges amounting to a few hundred dollars were also set to be freed in time for Happy Merry Christmas. Pantomimes always need a happy ending. By the end of the month Sovantha was back threatening to sue everyone, including her former allies who helped her to take down her previous ally.
Fires in Siem Reap are almost as common as child molesters in Temple Town. In December it was the turn of Garden Village to go up in smoke. Although nobody was killed, it was reported a relative of the owner was injured after jumping out of a second story window.
Another nasty piece of work from the land of windmills and clogs was all over the internet at the beginning of the month after horrific videos of a young child being tortured were spread over Facebook. The sick bastard filmed abusing the young Cambodian boy was quickly named as Vietnamese national Nguyen Thanh Dung, apparently boyfriend to Dutchman Stefan Struik, a businessman and plantation owner in Mondolkiri. The hunt went out and Struik was picked up by the competent authorities and officials from the Child Protection Unit in Kampong Cham, allegedly high on meth. Thanh Dung had already escaped across the border to Vietnam, where he was picked up by local police. Beyond sickening, the story was and still is very strange. Struik, whom has bought Khmer citizenship, a successful businessman with ventures around Asia and Europe is also a budding author, writing twisted tales about young boys being tortured and sacrificed. This case is sure to go on well into 2017 and will no doubt unearth a large can of worms.
The expat community mourned the sad and untimely passing of regular k440 poster and all round sage of wisdom in a confusing country, Mr. Ken Cramer, who went under the moniker of LTO. He was always a well-respected debater and a fountain of knowledge regarding Cambodia. We will never see his like again, may he rest in peace.
And just as the year was due to come to its regular conclusion, it appeared that party heads might not be getting their ecstasy hits on December 31 after all. A troupe of Czech-Russian-Finnish-Ukrainian-Americans would-be pill pushers were busted in Paradise Sur Mer redhanded with a bunch of disco biscuits, various chemicals and a pressing machine. Instead of gurning and busting shapes on the dance floor, the techno heads will be swapping quite a few New Year’s Eves in crowded bars for an overcrowded cell behind bars. PLUR.
2016 saw the demise of yet more businesses, the 24 hour den of inequity, Walkabout shutting its doors for the first and last time since 1998. Quealy’s on 172, known for burgers, limited headroom and larger than life landlady was bulldozed to make way for some non-emerging development. Alley Cat also locked up for the last time in December after 11 years. Rent hikes, increased competition , interest from taxation authorities and lower tourist numbers sealed the fate of countless more enterprises across the kingdom.
So, 2016 is dead, long live 2017! With commune elections due and the build up to the biggy in ‘18, more direct flights from everywhere bringing in even more idiots, it is sure to be another surreal 365 days, more same same, but different. Until next December folks, stay safe and stay off the media front pages!