The most useless embassy in the world has finally managed to do something. After much drama, the British Embassy in Cambodia has sent viable Brits previously stranded in Cambodia due to the Covid-19 pandemic off on a plane, leaving only the ambassador behind with those who have creative excuses to stay.
Albeit the British Embassy is taking full credit, the Vietnam Airlines flight to London via Hanoi was organized in liaison with the Irish Embassy in Vietnam. “I know that some of you are having difficulty in deciding whether to stay in Vietnam or Cambodia and wait it out, or to return home. There is no easy decision and it is not for me to tell you what you should do. However, I would urge you to consider your options carefully.”, John McCullagh, the Ambassador of Ireland to Vietnam, wrote in an e-mail to Irish citizens. “If you are staying in a hotel or hostel, it would be important to ask yourself whether it will remain open for the coming weeks and months and whether you can afford the cost.”, he continued.
The British Embassy had offered its stranded citizens an interest free loan if they could not afford the $1,090 – $1,230 USD cost of the ticket. All they had to do was to apply and to hand over their passports as collateral.
Some stranded Brits were angered by their Embassy’s offer of an interest free loan and the excuses started to appear. What if somebody has mental health problems? How will they travel to the airport when they don’t have enough money to do so? As a result, the Embassy had a problem reaching the necessary quota to arrange the flight.
The Embassy issued a harsh statement on Facebook, something that reads like a diplomatic middle finger to its so called stranded citizens. “We understand the financial difficulties many of you have been facing and that is why we have offered every single person who registered for the Vietnam Airlines flight, the opportunity to apply for a loan. Only a very small number of you applied for a loan and an even smaller number suplied the information that we requested from you. For those of you that did not follow our advice and based yourselves outside of Phnom Penh, we have also offered assistance to ensure you could get to Phnom Penh for the flight.”, it said.
Social media users criticized Tina Redshaw’s passivity amidst the Covid-19 crisis. While her American counterparts had 24/7 operated phone lines staffed with people ready to answer questions, initially the British Embassy referred stranded Brits to online search engines and travel agents and told them to arrange their own flights home.
People started speculating whether ambassador Tina Redshaw had left the country perhaps to work remotely from England. Angry Facebook users were openly mocking her and urging her to prove her presence by waving on the balcony. Frustrated by the accusations, the British Embassy denied the accusations on Facebook. In response a user wrote that “the fact you’ve had to issue a statement saying the Ambassador is in Cambodia only proves how totally invisible she has been to the stranded Brits for over two weeks”.
“The special Vietnam Airlines commercial flight is almost ready to leave Phnom Penh International Airport”, the British Embassy wrote on Facebook on Monday evening. It continued by thanking “the Vietnam Airlines team in Phnom Penh for their hard work, the Cambodian authorities for their assistance with travel permissions etc., our colleagues at the British Embassy in Hanoi, and tonight’s passengers for your great collaboration, patience, and understanding”.
In response to the news that the scheduled flight would go ahead, one user asked tauntingly: “Will Tina Redshaw be meeting people at the airport like the Australian ambassador did? He was there to ensure it all went well. Surely the Brits will get the same.” Tina Redshaw doubled down and posed for a photo at the airport before departure on Monday wearing a turquoise handbag to match her surgical face mask.
Nevertheless, her “just Google it” approach towards worried British citizens and general passivity amidst the biggest crisis the embassy has had to deal with this decade has ranked her as the most useless ambassador in Cambodia in modern times. While she normally does a splendid job toasting with champagne at BritCham events you should not bet on her ability to helpfully evacuate her fellow countrymen in dire times.