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Around The Sun: Co-operation With The Police

Steve Harrison tells of the sorry conclusion to a reported robbery.


It really doesnít matter what happens to you. Itís how you deal with what happens that's important.

The thieves were never caught and the goods were never recovered, but the police had to be seen to be doing their job.

When we went to the police station the next morning the Japanese girls were claiming to have been robbed of over US$4,000 in money and goods. They had filed a report.

I went to the police station to answer questions on behalf of the hotel. I turned up in cut off jeans, a scruffy T-Shirt and flip flop shoes. The police turned me away and demanded to speak to my business partner Alex. He appeared wearing a pressed shirt, clean slacks and leather shoes.

Some Oriental police are wonderful judges of character. They know immediately those who have pockets that can be fleeced.

After a series of questions Alex determined to compensate the five Japanese girls with free accommodation at the King's Palace Hotel. Oops! That looked like an admission of guilt Alex.

The girls were happy. Alex was happy. I was happy. The situation had blown over, right?


Several days later the police arrived in force: a truck-load of them, with senior officials, news crews and photographers. The Angkor International Hotel and Temple Bar were being closed down because we had failed to co-operate with the police. Failure to co-operate meant that we had failed to give them money. How could they possibly catch thieves if they had not been given money?

Justice can involve a curious balancing act. Victims in that part of the world who have lost their possessions cannot afford to pay. Unless of course the victims happen to be foreigners. White people are automatically thought of as being wealthy. They have been able to afford an air fare so naturally they are wealthy.

Obviously we were wealthy because we owned an hotel, and we had refused to meet their expectations of money.

The whole thing was a farce. We protested. We wrote letters. Eventually we were allowed to re-open the hotel. We lost money of course. And the Japanese tourists went away feeling very happy.


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