Correspondents' Correspondence


...Reporting in Cambodia Pnompenh--We had exchanged casual greetings several times, but I never really spoke to Frank Frosch until the day before his death We met by chance in Taing Kauk, a bombed-out village about 50 miles north of here, while interviewing Cambodian military commanders about their recent offensive Frank, who was upi's Pnompenh bureau chief, graciously offered me a ride back to the capital During the three-hour trip, I sat between him and Kyoichi Sawada, the upi photographer who was killed with Frank the following day Sawada, 34 and a Pulitzer Prize winner, was extremely reticent, so the return ride was largely a running conversation between Frank and myself two persons who suddenly found they had a lot to talk about We started back with car windows up, air conditioning on and radio tuned to the American Forces Vietnam Network in Saigon, which was broadcasting a taped play-byplay of a Cleveland Browns game I remarked that listening to pro football m an air-conditioned Mercedes while passing through war-torn countryside was a bit much for my psychic system Frank understood He chuckled at first, then tightened This style of travel can be dangerous, he said, because it instills an unreal sense of well-being and impenetrability "It probably was a factor with most of the guys who've gotten it," he said, referring to the five correspondents previously killed, and 17 captured, while covering the war in Cambodia None of them were in a combat situation, or even accompanying government forces, when confronted by the enemy Partly because of his receding hairline, and partly because of what he had experienced in Southeast Asia, Frank looked older than his 28 years He had been happy working for upi in Atlanta after his one-year tour as an Army intelligence officer in Vietnam, yet he volunteered to return, he had been reporting from Cambodia for three months "Strange as it may seem," Frank said, "I really wanted to get back out here " I said that I didn't think it strange at all, that, for some people, life in Asia holds an allure that does not diminish after only a year or two- I remarked that most of my family, and a few friends, thought I was crazy to foresake a placid suburban existence in the States Frank nodded "Mine too,' he said, adding that his wife and two children were hoping to join htm here soon As we passed a company of Cambodian soldiers straggling to the front, conversation turned to the differences between these people and the Vietnamese Frank and I both admired the Cambodians' patriotic fervor, and also chuckled over the foibles of the Cambodian Army--articularly the beer guzzling propensity of some officers supposedly leading the latest offensive We stopped for soda at a roadside stand near a ferry crossing on the outskirts of Pnompenh Frank said I was wise to forego chopped ice, a health risk in Southeast Asia Yet he let the merchant drop some in his glass "What the hell," he laughed "If you're going to live, you might as well do it right " Meanwhile, a tmckload of pigs had pulled up, heading for market Several dozen of the animals were on their backs, feet tired and stuck straight up in the air, all squealing like mad They were frightened and uncomfortable and heading to their death, and it disturbed both of us to see them "They know where they're heading," Frank said On the ferry we sat together at the bow, feet dangling overboard not far from the water, and spoke of what our work meant to us It's an absurd business, Frank said, considering the risks, the pay and general working conditions But he readily agreed when I responded that, for the moments of sheer satisfaction, however infrequent, it beats selling insurance Still, Frank said, he would be getting out of journalism someday because he doubted he would feel the same enthusiasm 20 years later He added "One thing I don't want to do is overstay my time, then limp around trying to do what younger guys can do without working up a sweat I've seen too many burned-out types hke that, and I don't want to become one " The last few minutes of the trip, after the ferry crossing, were spent in silence I was thinking about the future, and I suspect Frank was too When we got back at about 5 30 p m , we all shook hands and I thanked him for the ride "Don't mention it," he said "Let's get together for dinner later this week " We didn't, of course Frank and Kyoichi Sawada were gunned down at 5 30 p m the next day, as they drove together on a lonely stretch of highway south of Pnompenh It was--is a stretch no more or less secure than most roads outside the capital --Arnold Abrams Asian Press Squeeze Djakarta--During the dark days of Sukarno's "guided democracy," the Indonesian Journalists Association was forged into a "tool of the revolution " That was just a polite way of forcing it to be a tool of the old regime Now, under the "new order" government of President Suharto, newsmen are suddenly back under official pressure Beheving they were free from government interference, the Association members gathered in Palem-bang, South Sumatra, two months ago to nominate a new executive board The Information Ministry assigned Brigadier General Harsono, head of the Antara news agency, to keep an eye on the assembly Nonetheless, the journalists elected as their leader Rosihan Anwar, editor of the daily Pedoman and a respected, independent-minded intellectual who has been critical of the strong military influence m the Suharto regime Following Anwar's election, a breakaway group of journalists met separately to elect a rival executive board headed by B M Diah, publisher of the newspaper Merdeka Diah had worked loyally for both Sukarno (as a foreign ambassador) and Suharto (briefly as Information Minister) The official Antara news agency, obviously acting under orders from the Army general who heads it, reported that Diah was elected head of the Journalists Association The valid election of Anwar was ignored Subsequently the Information Ministry in Djakarta treated its former boss, Diah, as if he were the legitimately chosen leader of all the journalists Why did the government feel it necessary to disregard the elected leader of the Association and recognize only a rebel faction9 Many Indonesian editois have a chilling hunch The Suharto regime deliberately wanted to split the Association to assure that it would not become a force capable of resisting official influence, for the press has lately become highly critical of the government Pressures on the Indonesian press parallel moves by other Southeast Asian governments to crack down on free-wheeling newspapers Thailand's military rulers have been trying to push through a new law that would empower the Police Director-General to shut down a newspaper for publishing news or pictures "that could be construed as against peace and order of the country " Vigorous reaction by Thai editors has thus far staved off the move, but the matter is by no means dead In Malaysia, the government has enacted regulations allowing censorship of news it considers detrimental to national security Malaysian officials have yet to use the law, but its very existence has induced newspapers to focus on official announcements while avoiding controversy Even the Philippines, which has long nurtured a totally unrestrained press, recently deported two editors of Chinese origin to Taiwan, where they were tried and convicted of spreading Communist propaganda In fact, the two--Quintin and Rizal Yuyitung--simply operated their Manila paper Chinese Commercial News independently of Kuo-min Tang control, and President Ferdinand E Marcos bowed to Taiwan pressures in deporting the brothers Unfortunately for the pair, they did not have Filipino citizenship Joaquin Roces, chairman of the Press Foundation of Asia and publisher of the Manila Times, recently offered an accurate summation of the situation "The people of Asia are basically for press freedom, but there are leaders in Asia who appear to be rejecting the basic idea of a free press "--Louis Kraar Israeli Jets London--A vastly improved version of the French Mirage III-C aircraft, the warplane that turned the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict into a six-day war, is reliably expected to go on the production line of Israel Aircraft Industries by next summer Accoiding to a recent study of Middle East military hardware by the well informed London weekly New Scientist, through a series of "brilliantly organized intelligence coups, Israel has acquired the plans for the Snecma Atar 9B and 9C engines, used in the French Mirage strike aircraft, and the plans for Mirage airframes " In its current push toward greater arms self-sufficiency, New Scientist reports, Israel has already developed a highly sophisticated sea-to-sea missile, the Gabriel, and is about ready to produce a tank of its own, the Sabra This is said to incorporate features of both the British Centurion and the American Patton Major General Israel Tal, one of the world's leading authorities on armored warfare, is credited with designing the tanks --Thomas Land...

Vol. 53 • December 1970 • No. 24

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